Healthy places Environmental health hazards Rabies Bats


Bats are especially active in the summer months in Oxford County which means you have a greater chance of coming into contact with one from May-September. Bats are beneficial to our communities—a single bat can capture 600 mosquitoes an hour. There is a chance that bats may be carrying the rabies virus.

Bats have small teeth and may leave marks that are not easily seen and the bite may not be felt, therefore the following circumstances should not be dismissed as bat exposure cannot be ruled out:

  • When a child has direct contact with a bat
  • Found in a room with an unattended child or an adult who cannot give a reliable history

If a bat bites someone, or if infectious material such as saliva from a bat gets into your eyes, nose, mouth, or wound, wash the affected area thoroughly, get medical advice immediately and call Public Health at 519-421-9901.

How to protect your home from bats

  • Examine your home for holes that might allow bats to enter
  • Any openings larger than a 1/4 inch by 1/2 inch should be caulked and sealed
  • Always use window screens, chimney caps and draft guards beneath doors to attics
  • Ensure all doors close tightly
  • If you know where they are coming in, cover outside entry points with clear plastic sheeting, or bird netting so that any bats who are inside can escape, but will not be able to re-enter. Then once you know all bats are out, permanently seal the area.

It is important to vaccinate your cats and dogs for rabies as all animals can encounter bats. As bats can also enter homes, it is important to vaccinate your indoor cats as well.

How to get a bat out of your home, what to do once you catch it?

  • Never touch a bat with your bare hands, always wear leather gloves to prevent being scratched
  • Use a small box or coffee can and wait until the bat lands and put the box or can over the bat, slide a piece of cardboard under the box/can and trap the bat inside. Tape the cardboard to the container and punch small holes in the cardboard to allow the bat to breathe.
  • If the bat has bitten or scratched you, seek medical attention and call Oxford County Public Health. Keep the bat so that it can be tested for rabies.

When to call Public Health?

  • If you have been bitten or scratched by a bat, contact Public Health
  • If you have captured the bat, Public Health will send the bat out for rabies testing

How do you know if a bat has rabies?

  • Rabies can only be confirmed by testing the bat.
  • If you see a bat that is active by day or is in a place where you wouldn't normally find them during the day (lawn, in your room etc.), or is unable to fly, it is more likely to have the rabies virus.

For more information, or if you think you have come into contact with a bat, contact Public Health at 519-421-9901 or toll-free 1-800-922-0096