Town of Andover
Department of Public Health
Thomas Carbone, Director of Public Health
36 Bartlet St.
Andover, MA 01810
Town of North Andover
Department of Public Health
Brian LaGrasse, Director of Public Health
1600 Osgood St.
Building 20, Unit 2035
North Andover, MA 01845
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
*Joint Release* Andover and North Andover Health Divisions Provide Residents With Information Regarding Bats and Rabies
ANDOVER and NORTH ANDOVER — The Andover and North Andover Health Divisions are providing residents with safety tips and guidelines regarding bats and rabies, as calls to public health agencies pertaining to the nocturnal mammals increase this time of year.
Bats often 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. As the nights get cooler into the fall, bats make seek the warmer spaces of the home as well.
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, the Andover and North Andover Health Divisions recommend 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.
Not all bats will need to be tested for rabies, and often they can be released outside. However, if a bat is found inside a room where a person or pet has been sleeping it should be tested for rabies.
“Residents should take extreme caution when handling bats and carefully follow the tips outlined by the Department of Public Health,” said Thomas Carbone, Andover Director of Public Health. “If you have any questions or concerns about capturing these mammals, call animal control or the public health department.”
The Andover and North Andover Health Divisions 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.
Dogs and cats that are vaccinated, but have been exposed to bats that are unavailable for rabies testing, may need to receive a booster shot and/or be quarantined. Unvaccinated animals exposed to bats that are unavailable for rabies testing pose a significant risk to other animals and people, and may need to be quarantined for a prolonged period or even euthanized at the owner’s expense. This is why it is so important to vaccinate indoor pets as well as outdoor pets.
“It is vital that all pets are vaccinated and that residents contact the health department if they suspect that themselves or their pet has come in contact with a bat,” said Brian LaGrasse, North Andover Director of Public Health. “Take the necessary precautions if you are forced to capture a bat and immediately report it to the Department of Public Health if you find one in a room with a sleeping person or pet.”
Residents are also encouraged to check their attic vents to make sure screens are in good condition and fit properly so that bats cannot get in, or, call a pest company to conduct an evaluation.
Questions about domestic animals exposed to bats should be directed to the Department of Agricultural Resources, Division of Animal Health at 617-626-1810.