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CE has bats in its belfry

  • Published
  • By Housing Maintenance Office
  • 90th Civil Engineer Squadron
Most people don't think about bats unless watching a vampire movie, during Halloween, or unless they find their home is infested with bats, guano or batbugs.

Recently one of our base families has experienced such infestation. Don't panic, just be aware of the possibility of the presence of bats, and countermeasures you can take if you find even one bat, or signs bats may be in or around your home.

Bats are a fact of life; in particular the little brown bat is the most prevalent of bats in our local area, and an important contributor to our ecological system, principally feeding on small insects like mosquitoes. You can't eliminate bats all together, but you can manage them where and when found.

The scary part about the presence of bats isn't that they will transform into a vampire, but some are known carriers of infectious rabies. Rabies is a deadly virus, which affects the central nervous system and is most commonly transferred to humans through bites from infected animals. In most cases, bats don't have rabies and generally you can tell if one does by the behavior it displays. Bats are nocturnal creatures, so if you see one during the day you should be cautious. If you see one in either evening or daytime, behaving as if it is weak, sick, can't fly or is easily approachable, it may have rabies. The only way to be sure is to have it tested.

The Center for Disease Control reports only one or two cases of rabies in humans per year, but the most common source of human rabies in the United States is from bats. Rabies is a fatal disease, yet tens of thousands of people are successfully protected from developing rabies through vaccinations, and by practicing caution and risk awareness in relation to the presence of bats in our environments.

Check your home routinely for possible bat roosting, and prevent them from finding an entry into your home. It is not recommended to bat proof your home during the months of May through August. Young bats may already be inside the home, which may cause them to try to migrate around the inside of the home. However, if you have already had your home inspected for bat roosting and removed all your bats, bat proofing during these months should not cause additional problems. Most bats will leave in the fall and winter to hibernate, and this is considered the best time to bat proof. For more information on bat proofing contact the Housing Maintenance Office at 307-637-6102.

If you find a dead or sick bat in your home, or you have killed a bat in or around your home, do not touch it with bare hands. Safely catch, capture or remove the remains of the bat and take it to the veterinary clinic for testing and disposal. If you find bat guano, blood, fur or urine, which smells similar to ammonia, in your home, contact the maintenance office at 637-6102 for further investigation.

Bats can enter a home through a hole as small as a dime. If you find a hole like this in your home, calk it, tape it, screen it. If your home is drafty and it isn't because of the windows or doors, you may have an opening large enough for a bat to enter, and should inspect your home for the actual presence of bats, or signs they have been roosting in your home.

Encourage children to never handle bats, wild or domestic animals not belonging to them. Wash all bites or wound areas with disinfectant soap and water. Do not destroy a bat, bird or other animal and try to keep their brain intact, as that is what is tested for rabies.

F. E. Warren Air Force Base has a bat house, which gives the little brown bats an alternate roosting place. Bat houses need to be in a place well away from houses and out of reach of children. The draw for housing bats is the number of insects per one bat that they are able to eat, preventing the insects from biting us and infecting us with other transmittable illnesses.

· Don't let bats move in. Bat proof your home; identify and fix areas in which they may enter your home.
· Inspect your home frequently for signs of bats. Report signs of bats or other wildlife found in or around your home.
· Do not handle bats or other wildlife dead, alive, injured or sick. If it doesn't belong to you, don't touch it.
· Have your pets vaccinated against rabies.
· Wash your hands and any bite, scratch or contact sites with disinfectant soap and water.
· If bitten or scratched, get medical treatment regardless of how bad the bite seems.

Call Public Health at 307-773-3040 if you have questions about possible rabies exposures. Call the Veterinary Clinic at 307-773-3354 if you have questions about submitting a bat for rabies testing. Call Balfour Beatty at 307-637-6102 if you see signs of bats in homes on base.