Do all bats carry rabies?
Rabies is one of the oldest diseases to have been recorded throughout history, as the oldest records of the disease reach as far as 2000 BC. Transmitted amongst mammals through bodily fluids, it poses a high risk as it can spread through animal bites and scratches, and even turn into an outbreak. Bats are one of the most feared animals when it comes to spreading rabies.
By far, it is a misconception that all bats have rabies. Bats are not born with rabies. However, bats can contract and spread rabies, and rabies does pose a significant risk in case that a man, or any other animal, goes into contact with a bat. A bat can both contract and spread rabies while hunting and in contact with the rest of the bats in the colony.
But, what does this mean to a human dreading that a bat infected with rabies will endanger them, their family, or their pets? In strict terms of the situation in which a bat might find itself in a human household, rabies does pose a significant risk. First things first, bats can spread rabies though their feces, called guano. In case of a bat infestation, a colony will quickly pile large amounts of guano in a single home. This is a situation which it is only enough for a one bat to carry rabies to create the risk of spreading it. In a more spontaneous sense in which we may encounter bats in our homes, there are good chances that the animal will suffer from a certain disease, including rabies. In healthy bats, their ability to manage within the space is highly precise and sharpened.
As bats are nocturnal, they will use the dark hours to be active- to fly and feed. This means, that once we encounter a bat that allows us to approach or touch them, they are either sick or injured. In any case, standing still in the open and interacting with other species is not normal bat behavior. To conclude, even though statistical chances that a bat is infected with rabies is rather small, a chance that a single or multiple bats caught in a person’s home is infected with rabies remains quite serious. For this reason, it is not recommended to touch or try to trap a bat on your own.
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