Westchester Health Officials Want Homeowners To Catch Bats For Testing

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Photo Credit: File

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Bats have been making their way into Westchester homes this month, and the Westchester County Health Department wants residents to know what to do if you catch one in your home.

“We’d like everyone to catch the bat,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler. “Most of the time, the bats tested are not rabid, so you and your family can be spared unneeded treatment. But rabies is fatal, so without the bat to test, you will most likely have to get rabies shots.”

During the first week in August, 43 bats found in homes were brought into the Health Department for testing. None of those bats tested positive for rabies, and the residents did not have to receive rabies treatment. However, 17 people who were exposed to bats did not catch them for testing and had to begin preventive treatment for rabies.

To learn how to safely capture a bat in your home, watch the video on the Health Department website here.

If there’s a chance that a person or pet in your house had contact with the bat, catch the bat and call the Health Department at 914-813-5000 to arrange to have it tested for rabies.

Here’s how to safely catch a bat:

1. Close windows and doors so the bat cannot escape.

2. Wear thick gloves and grab a container (such as a coffee can), a piece of cardboard and some tape.

3. Wait until the bat has settled on a wall.

4. Place the container over the bat, trapping it against the wall.

5. Slide the cardboard between the wall and container to trap the bat inside.

6. Tape the cardboard to the container

7. It’s critical to keep it on ice in a cooler or double-bag it and place it in the freezer.

8. Call the Health Department at 914-813-5000 for advice on submitting the bat for testing.

To bat-proof your home, add screens to your eaves and attic openings. Beware of opening close patio umbrellas, as bats like to hide there.

For more information, visit the Westchester County Health Department’s website here

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Comments (3)

You do want bats in the neighborhood! They eat tons of mosquitos. (Keeping you safe from West Nile Virus). If you see one outside is a great treat. Enjoy their airal acrobatics. http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/environmental_education/BLM-Idaho_nature/wildlife/bats/the_benefits_of_bats.html

Avoidance is the key. Bats, known in some parts of the world as "fling mice" are laid back, generally good natured, and do not want to interact with humans. The key to protecting yourself from rabies and or rabies scares is to make sure places in your house where you hang out are not good bat hang outs. Bats are most likely to enter your living space through a slightly opened window. Bats seek narrow spaces to sleep at night to avoid predators. To a bat your window, when left only a few inches open, looks like a crevice that would make a great roosting spot. Using screens, or open your window wide (with no blinds or curtains) or leaving the window closed is much less attractive to a bat.

This is not a good suggestion to have home owners trapping bats. It is very hazardous. Need professionals equipped for tis job.