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Early Fall Can Be a Batty Time for Homeowners

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is advising residents that late August and early September can be a troubling times for homeowners with older houses, window air-conditioners, or dusk-to-dawn outdoors lighting, because their homes are more prone to be entered by a bat.

Each summer - with activity peaking in August - many Pennsylvania homeowners have closer-than-desired encounters with bats - mostly little browns and big browns. They are two of Pennsylvania's most common bats.

Most often, the bats are youngsters, occasionally called "pups," that access the living quarters of homes while exploring, or after becoming disoriented while poking around in the nooks and crannies of a house. They either access the home from the outside, or from an established roost directly beneath the house's roof.

The easiest - although not necessarily the quickest - way to get a bat out of your house is to contain the bat to one room by closing doors, and then open a window or two and wait for the bat to fly out. It's important to stay in the room so you can watch to make sure the bat has left. Stand quietly along a wall, away from the window, and wait for the bat to locate the open window.

It's also a good idea to remove any pets and children from the room the bat is contained in; the more excitement in that room, the longer it will take the bat to settle down and concentrate on finding an exit.

If a bat won't leave, or you're unwilling to wait the bat out, your next best option is to perform a catch-and-release. This approach requires waiting for the bat to alight on something and then covering it with a bowl, strainer or a small-meshed fishing net. If you use a bowl or strainer, you'll have to slip something stiff and flat - like cardboard - under the bowl after you place it over the bat.

Whether using the window method, or catch-and-release, homeowners are advised not to chase after the bat.

In situations where a bat is present in the home and the possibility that someone has been bitten cannot be ruled out - for instance, a bat is found in a bedroom with a sleeping child - then the bat should be retained and tested for rabies.

If that is not possible, the Department of Health recommends that post-exposure treatment - rabies shots - should be seriously considered. If there is any chance that someone has been bitten or scratched, then the Department of Health recommends a physician be consulted and the local health department notified. Your physician should determine whether rabies shots are needed.

For more information on bats, please consider consulting PSU's A Homeowner's Guide to Northeastern Bats and Bat Problems at and the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Bat Rabies Fact Sheet..


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