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What (NOT) to do if you have a bat in the house!

June 10, 2011

Ever heard the expression “bats in the belfry?”  Well, I can honestly say that if you have a bat in your home, it gives new meaning to this phrase!  Let me start at the beginning.  5:30 AM and my daughter is screaming her head off.  I go running to her room to find her entombed under her bedding with no openings at all and her lights blazing.  She’s screaming–“Get it out!, Get it out!”  I’m looking around trying to figure out what she’s talking about, because I don’t see anything.  Is she having a nightmare? What’s going on here?  I’m calling her name, trying to pry her covers off and she won’t budge, won’t talk to me, just keeps screaming.  But now she’s added, “There’s a bat in my room!”  So, I walk over and shut the door (just in case) and I continue to look around–nope, still don’t see anything.  I finally pry her covers off and she is in tears, clearly frightened and insists that there is a bat in the room.  By now, my husband has joined me and we continue to search the room; still no sign of a bat.  We think she must be dreaming, we’ve never even seen bats OUTSIDE the house.  So, we take her to our room and close the door for the night.

The next day, we are determined to show her there is no bat, so we go search the room again.  My husband shakes her drapes and what do you know– a bat falls to the floor in kind of a sleeping state.  Well, clearly my daughter is not crazy.  So here is where my story begins– with what NOT to do when you find a bat in your house.  Don’t do what we did.  We figured OK, no harm done–we’ll just pick the bat up with some grill tongs and put him in a bag to release outside.  Why not?  He didn’t bite anyone.    Which is exactly what we did.  He barely moved the entire time and we took him outside, sat down the bag and watched him crawl out and fly away.  Only then, did I suggest we look it up on the computer.  Well, guess what the first thing I read said? DON’T RELEASE THE BAT!  OOPS, so now what?  Apparently when you have a bat in your home while you are sleeping, everyone is considered exposed.  Apparently, a bat can bite you while you are sleeping and you may not even know it or see any evidence of it.  Apparently, bats are big carriers of rabies and it can be transported in their saliva.  And apparently, we had just made a VERY BIG MISTAKE!   So, now I have to take my daughter to the pediatrician–who, by the way, acts like we are contagious with the plague.  She says the ENTIRE family, including the dog, now need our rabies shots.  But Dr’s offices don’t do these, you have to go to the ER.  So, our family of four now has to go to the ER, where we are otherwise known as “the bat family” and we have to get the first round in our series of rabies shots.  How many do you need?  Well, that depends on your size and weight.  My husband had the most and on that very first day had 7 shots–in the legs, in the rear, in the arms, etc.., the rest of us had between 5 and 6–not pleasant at all.  And this was just round 1.  We would now need to come back each week for 4 weeks and get more.  Less than the first time, but still some each week. And we had to report to the ER each time, FUN!  Then let’s talk about costs–our insurance covered 80% but we still owed over $3000 out of pocket.  All because we tried to be kind to nature and released the bat.  What should we have done?  Kept the bat contained, called animal control and had the bat tested for rabies.  If the bat was negative for rabies, all of this could have been avoided.   Luckily, our dog had her rabies vaccine so only needed a booster.  The silver lining in all this? Now we are all protected for life; we will only need a booster should we get exposed to rabies sometime in our future.  But boy did I learn a valuable lesson.  And as I told this story to friends, I was amazed at how many people had had similar situations that had just never come up in conversation, which is why I decided to blog.  Spread the word, tell all your friends, DON’T RELEASE THE BAT! Contact animal control.

Stay tuned for…when the bat comes back!  Like my blog at

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. When the Bat Comes Back! « athomeinfairfaxva
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