What Should I do with a Bat after I Catch It in my House?
Rule one: don’t hurt it. Rule two: help it get back outside, which is where it really wants to be.
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There are various ways in which your bat might have gained entry – most likely through an airway to/from the attic or through an open, unscreened window or door. If you decide on a catch-and-release strategy. There are several ways to go about it, all intended to prevent injury to either yourself or the bat. Whatever method you decide to employ, wait until the bat lands in order to avoid injuring it.
To catch the bat, wildlife experts recommend using a butterfly net or alternatively a towel to cover the animal and protect your hands when you grab it. When using the towel technique, be extremely careful when handling the animal. Bats have very fragile bones and can be severely injured if handled roughly or perhaps squeezed too tightly.
Another strategy is to trap the bat by allowing it to land and then placing the bucket over it. Sliding a piece of cardboard between the bucket and the landing surface will keep the bat in the bucket while you determine your next move.
Bats have very sharp teeth, and while they are not given to aggressive biting, they may well try to do so defensively, so it’s best to wear gloves – preferably leather -- if you attempt to capture it by hand or if you need to handle it after you catch it. It is widely believed that bats carry rabies but while it has been known, the incidence is no higher than in any other wild creature. But why take a chance?
There is only one thing to do with a bat once you have contained it and that is to release it back into the wild. It may be well to delay the capture process until late in the day so that once you have the animal, it can join the rest of the colony when they come out to feed around dusk.
Take the animal outside, uncover it, hold the containment vessel – towel, box, or bucket – as high as you can and uncover it to allow the bat to take off. You might also give the bat an assist by gently launching it upward. The bat won’t need much encouragement to join in the feeding because after its ordeal, it’s likely to be hungry. And besides, it’s what bats do.
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