What to do if you find a bat

Posted on 17 November 2020 By Anita Froneman

South Africa is home to 56 bat species. Often these winged animals are injured or killed either accidentally or intentionally by humans.

The Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital has urged South Africans to get in touch with authorities if they find a bat at home or in a garden.

‘BAT SEASON is well underway, and we have had a few queries as well as patients brought in. Urban development can result in fewer suitable roost sites for bats, such as caves, dead trees and natural cavities, thus forcing bats to seek alternative roosting sites – making roofs and ceilings the next optimal site for many bat species,’ the Hospital wrote on Facebook.

‘Bats play an instrumental role in our ecosystem. Insectivorous bats are a wonderful natural pest control while other species play a vital roll in pollinating crops, thus being of great value to the agricultural sector.

‘Bat exclusions, or removing bats from your roof requires specialist knowledge. Bats are currently in their breeding season and is unethical to remove or disrupt bat roosts between October and March. For further information on bat exclusions, or if you would like to make your environment more bat-friendly, contact EcoSolutions Urban Ecology

Found an injured or baby bat? Check out this flow chart on what to do. If in doubt, contact the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital on 071 248 1514.

Posted by Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital on Monday, 16 November 2020

According to the NSPCA, there 74 species in the sub-region of southern Africa of which 20 species of insectivorous bats and 2 species of fruit-eating bats are listed as Threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals.

Of these, 9 are listed as either Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable, meaning that they face a high risk of extinction in the wild.

If you find an uninjured bat in your house, here’s how to guide it to go out according to the NSPCA:

– Close any doors you can to contain the bat in a single room or space.

– Open all the doors and windows as wide as you can in that room or area.

– Turn any outside lights on, e.g. the porch light.

– Turn the lights in the room off or down.

– Stay in the room, sit down, relax, and watch the bat. If you don’t, you will not know if it actually left or has landed and is resting somewhere.

– Do not try to guide the bat with a broom, tennis racket etc. You do not need to cover your head; it does NOT want to get in your hair.

– The bat, if allowed to, will navigate its way out using the light outside and the draft created by the open window or door. This may take 20 minutes. If the bat has landed somewhere, it may be captured and released outside after sunset. Approach your visitor very slowly and quietly.

NEVER TOUCH THE BAT with your bare hands. Gently place a can or box over the bat, slide cardboard underneath and release your visitor out of doors at dusk, placing it on a high surface where it will be able to take off.

Picture: Wikimedia Commons

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