Town of Arlington
Department of Health and Human Services
Christine Bongiorno, Director
27 Maple St.
Arlington, MA 02476
For Immediate Release
Monday, July 18, 2016
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Contact: Christine Bongiorno
Email: [email protected]
Arlington Department of Health and Human Services Provides Guidelines Regarding Bats and Rabies
ARLINGTON — As calls to public health agencies regarding bats and exposure to bats rise this time of year, Arlington’s Department of Health and Human Services (AHHS) would like to provide residents with safety tips and guidelines if they encounter one of these nocturnal mammals.
Bats usually roost and raise their young in attics. During the warm weather months, an attic can become too warm for the bats, forcing them into people’s living quarters as they search for cooler places to sleep.
Additionally, baby bats born earlier in the summer are now getting old enough to start exploring on their own. Inexperienced young bats may fly down a chimney, through an open window or down the attic stairs, potentially placing them in proximity or even direct contact with people.
If a bat is found inside your home, AHHS recommends following tips from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to safely capture it:
Gather the following items for a bat capture kit:
- Gloves – heavy, preferably pliable, thick leather.
- Kitchen tongs or forceps – 9 to 12 inches in length.
- Coffee can or a similar container – preferably with a tight-fitting lid.
- Sheet of cardboard
- Net – with fine mesh and a long handle.
- Flashlight – to locate the bat without scaring the animal and causing it to fly around in alarm.
To capture a bat on a wall:
- Close the doors and windows to the room and wait until the bat lands.
- Approach the bat slowly, placing the container over the animal.
- Slide the cardboard between the wall and the container, lifting them away from the wall as one unit.
- Slowly slide the cardboard off the container while simultaneously attaching the appropriate sized lid.
- Tape the lid to the container so the bat cannot escape and label the container so it is not accidentally opened.
To capture a bat in a high place or in flight, come from behind the animal using a net. Transfer the bat to a container with forceps or thick leather gloves.
If you have captured a bat, and there is a question about whether there was an exposure to a resident or pet, immediately contact HHS and the animal control officer. They will help you to determine if there was an exposure and whether the bat should be submitted to the state lab for testing.
“We always get an increase in the number of calls from residents who find bats in their home due to the warmer weather this time of year,” said Christine Bongiorno, Arlington Director of Health and Human Services. “These animals, though small, can be dangerous and pose a serious health risk to you, your children and your pets.”
The Arlington Department of Health and Human Services and Animal Control Officer would also like to remind residents that dog and cat owners are legally required to keep their pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.