In San Diego County, we are lucky enough to have 22 different species of bats. These nocturnal animals are extremely valuable to our environment; in fact, almost every bat found in this area eats insects, which provides a huge benefit to our thriving agricultural industry. To hunt their prey in the dark, bats rely primarily on echolocation, which involves sending out a series of clicks and beeps that bounce off the objects surrounding them and using the reflected sound waves to create an image of their environment.
Bats are the only mammal capable of true flight and are the world's primary predators of flying insects, with a single bat capable of eating as many as 1,000 mosquito-sized bugs per hour! Other fruit and nectar-eating species are vital for pollination and seed dispersal for crops like bananas, mangoes, cocoa and agave (used in the making of tequila!). Bats are the number one rabies vector species in our area, so it’s very important to never touch a bat with your bare hands.
If a bat is taking up residence near your house or business, it will likely be there temporarily and leave after dark. If the bat returns to the same undesired spot every night, it can be deterred by pointing a fan or bright light at the spot. However, this technique should never be used during baby season, which is during the spring and summer months, as this bat might be a mom with a pup who can easily fall off her body and become orphaned. If possible, it is important to leave these bats alone for as long as possible, or calling a professional wildlife service to aid you in removing the bat.
If a bat is in your house, close all doors and windows, leaving just one door open to the outside to allow the bat to fly out.
Any bat that is found on the ground (especially one that is not moving) can be assumed to be hurt or sick and should always be brought to the Pilar & Chuck Bahde Wildlife Center. If the bat has come into contact with a pet or human, San Diego Humane Society Humane Law Enforcement or your local animal control officials must always be contacted. If a human came into contact, the person's physician needs to be notified as well.
If you've found an injured animal and need information on where to take it, please call (619) 299-7012.
Things to Remember if you encounter a bat:
- Bats are the number one rabies vector species in our area and should NEVER be handled with bare hands.
- The most common question we receive about bats is that they are in buildings, houses, attics or on the sides of buildings with feces accumulating in these areas. If this is an isolated incident, this bat may have simply roosted in or near your building to rest for the day and will most likely leave after dark and not return.
- If the bat returns to the same undesired spot every night, it can be deterred by pointing a fan or bright light at the spot. However, this technique should never be used during baby season, which occurs during the spring and summer months, as this may be a mom with a pup who can easily fall off her body and become orphaned.
- If you encounter a bat flying around your house, close all doors and windows while opening one door to the outside with a light and allow it to fly out.
- If it doesn't immediately fly out, please be patient with this confused bat, and remember that it doesn't want to be in our homes just as much as we don't want it there! If it pauses flight to roost on your wall or ceiling, give it time to rest so that it will be better prepared to leave during its normal period of activity: nighttime!
- If the bat falls to the ground and needs assistance exiting the premises, please either call our Humane Law Enforcement team at (619) 299-7012 ext. 1 for an officer's help or use thick gloves and a container to gently move the bat outside.
- Remember to NEVER touch a bat without gloves or some type of protective equipment. If you have decided to call Humane Law Enforcement or animal control for assistance, you can place a container over the animal while awaiting an officer to ensure the animal stays in one place and remains unharmed.
- If the bat has come into contact with a pet or human, Humane Law Enforcement or your local animal control officials must always be contacted. If a human has come in contact with a bat, the person should contact their physician to ensure no additional measures need to be taken.
- If the bat has been caught by a dog or cat, your pet may need to visit their veterinarian, especially if they do not have their updated rabies vaccine.