How to Catch a Bat

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Counting bats in Central Park for the Bioblitz, August 26-27, 2013

Rabid bats could be a problem for some Westchester residents.

County health officials said if residents find a bat in their homes, they should bring it in or arrange for the agency to pick it up so it can be tested, even if they don’t think the bat bit or touched them.

“They have very fine nails on the end of their wings, and they preen themselves, and they get that saliva on those nails, and you may not know that during the night that bat landed on you and scratched you and can transmit rabies that way,” De Lucia said.

Rabies is fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 49 people died of rabies in the United States from 1995 to 2011. Thirty-five of them had been exposed to bats. But it can be treated with a series of shots if caught early.

Assistant health commissioner Peter De Lucia said once you catch the bat, the most humane way to kill it is to put it in the freezer.

“Don't take your shoe. Don't take a rolled up newspaper or magazine and smash the bat and kill it. That's not what we want you to do because you can damage the bat so much where we're not going to be able to test because we need to test the brain,” De Lucia said.

Bats are more likely to get into people's homes from late July into early September. 

Here's a video from the New York State Department of Health on how to safely catch a bat: