When to help Bats
Modified on: Sat, 13 Nov, 2021 at 4:39 PM
The UK is host to 18 species of bat. All are highly protected in law because they are threatened. It is illegal to handle a bat without a licence unless you do so to help an injured bat with the aim of returning it to the wild.
Bats most often come to the attention of people when they're seen clinging to a wall in the day or are caught by a cat.
When to seek rescue help
A bat caught by a cat
Any animal which has been in a cat's mouth must be treated with antibiotics to prevent a life threatening infection.
A baby without its mother
All our bats are pretty tiny so adults are commonly mistaken for babies. A true baby will have little or no fur.
A bat stuck to fly paper or caught in netting
Please don't try to release it yourself. Contact a rescue urgently for help.
When to take other action
A bat on the ground or in an exposed area
It may just be exhausted or disorientated but it is in a very vulnerable position so should be moved out of harm's way and a wildlife rescue contacted for advice.
A bat flying around indoors
Close internal doors to contain the bat, open windows and turn off all the lights and the bat should find its way out.
A bat roost has been disturbed
If you accidentally disturb a bat roost during building work you should immediately contact the Bat Conservation Trust for advice. Carrying on with the work will be illegal without a license.
You can find rescues in your area by putting your location into the search facility at directory.helpwildlife.co.uk. If you are unsure whether to intervene or you have difficulty finding a rescue who can help, you can contact us via helpwildlife.co.uk/helpdesk and our volunteers will give you advice and support.
When to leave alone
A bat flying around during the day
Although they are generally nocturnal, it's not unusual for bats to hunt during the day
Bats nesting in a loft
Bats are highly protected in law and it is illegal to disturb their roosts
Before attempting to capture a bat, please note the following important information
It is illegal to handle a bat unless to rescue it from danger or to help a sick or injured bat.
Although very rare, some bats in the UK have been found to carry rabies.
Never try to capture a bat in mid flight. You’re unlikely to succeed but if you do you may injure the bat.
In light of the above information, we recommend that you contact a licensed bat carer before touching the bat where possible. We list many on our website or you can also contact the Bat Conservation Trust directly on 0345 1300 228.
If the bat is in immediate danger and you need to move it, pick it up using gloves or a tea towel. In truth they don’t often bite and the smaller species would struggle to break your skin if they did anyway.
Place the bat in a cardboard box with a towel on the bottom. Ensure the lid is secure and that you have provided sufficient air holes. Place the box somewhere warm and quiet and keep children and pets away.
If the bat has been caught by a cat then you must seek urgent help. The bat will need to be given antibiotics within a few hours of being bitten or it may develop fatal septicaemia. Some wildlife rescues are available 24/7 for this sort of emergency and we try to give some indication of availability on our listings. You could also contact local vets – although they will not have facilities for the long term care of the bat, they may be willing to provide a one off dose of antibiotics. Some may even do so free or at a very reduced price.
It is not generally necessary or advisable to provide food and water. Never attempt to force feed water and never offer cow’s milk or alcohol.
It is likely that the bat will be shocked or weakened so supplementary heat can be very helpful here. You can put a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel at one end of the box, either inside, underneath or next to the box, ensuring the bat can get away from the heat if it wants to.
NB: this advice is designed to cover the first couple of hours or overnight. If you are not able to get the animal to a wildlife rescue promptly, please at least speak to someone by phone for further advice about care beyond this period. If you want to care for the casualty yourself rather than taking it to a rescue, please read the information here.
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