Endangered Indiana Bat
Note – if you have been bitten by a bat wash the affected area thoroughly and get medical attention immediately without delay.
In Indiana, there are 10 species of bats currently existing here. Some other species have been found, but are accidental species. Of those 10 species, two are on the federal endangered species list and two additional species are on the state of Indiana endangered list.
There are many myths and misunderstandings about bats such as being aggressive, sucking blood, entangling in people’s hair, demons of the night, etc. Actually the opposite is true in that they very seldom bite unless they are on the defensive and tend to shy away from humans. Bats are extremely beneficial to the environment and agriculture because they eat hundreds of insects, including mosquitoes, every hour. One conservative estimate for Indiana alone is that they eat about 8.7 billion insects per year. Their presence in the environment should be encouraged, rather than eliminated unless they become a nuisance in some way.
However, direct contact with bats must be avoided because of the possibility of exposure to the rabies viral infection. Rabies infections in humans can be fatal. According to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health: “People usually get exposed to the rabies virus when an infected animal bites them. Exposure may also occur by a scratch inflicted by an infected animal, or if saliva enters an open cut or mucous membrane (nose, eyes, mouth). Many people have been exposed to the rabies virus by handling their pets after an attack and getting the saliva of the rabid animal on their hands.” The rabies virus cannot be transmitted through feces, blood, urine, or by touching the fur of the bat.
Bats on Campus
If a person is bitten by a bat on campus, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) requires that the University follow specific procedures, report the exposure and have the bat tested according to IAC 410 1-2.5-80. If you are bitten or saliva from a bat gets into your eyes, nose, mouth, or wounds, wash the affected area thoroughly and get medical attention immediately without delay. IU EHS should be notified of any animal bites by calling 812-855-6311 or emailing email@example.com.
The University has developed the following procedures and policies for evaluating and handling situations on campus where direct contact with bats is likely without intervention. Please see this guidance on Bat Exposures and Removal of Bat in Campus Buildings.
Bats in Buildings
In all cases, do not attempt to capture the bat yourself.
RPS Residence Centers and Apartments: if you see a bat, notify the center desk or housing assistant. Do not call Bloomington Animal Care and Control as RPS has a vendor that handles bat removal.
For other on-campus housing: contact someone at the center desk or housing assistant.
For academic buildings: contact IU’s Building Services.
For faculty, staff, and guests:
Contact your custodial staff, Building Services, Building Manager, or call IUPD for emergency situations.
The bat will be captured for testing if:
- it has bitten a person or animal, (see the photo below that illustrates how hard it is to notice a bat bite)
- it could have bitten someone without them knowing it,
- it has had direct contact with a human or animal or,
- it is found in a room with someone who might be unaware of contact.
NOTE: Unaware situations would include someone who is sleeping, a child, a mentally disabled person or someone who is intoxicated in some way. Bites are very small and can almost be unnoticeable.
If there’s any question about contact between the bat and people or pets, the bat must be saved for testing. Extra care should be taken to avoid damage to the bat’s head because it is necessary for proper testing. The bat should not be frozen, but refrigerated until it can be delivered to the Indiana State Department of Health lab. The bat can be released if:
- it is found in a building where the people would know if they had been bitten or not, and
- no human contact occurred.
There is no need in this situation to capture the bat for testing. The bat can be released or left to leave on its own if it is not hibernation season. All windows and doors should be closed to confine the bat, except the ones leading directly to the outdoors. The bat will generally leave on its own. If not, contact residential services, Building Services, custodial staff, or IUPD. If it is hibernation season, the captured bat will need to be taken to Wildcare Inc. to continue its hibernation.
The best way to ensure that bats don't come into close contact with humans is to prevent them from entering buildings, and the best way to prevent bats from entering buildings is exclusion. This is best to be done from April-May or from August-October to prevent the formation of maternity or hibernation colonies in buildings. There are several species of the 10 found in Indiana, that will seek an area, such as a building, with constant temperature for maternity (spring) or hibernation (fall).
Any opening larger than ¼ inch (including those for electrical and plumbing) should be sealed to prevent entry of bats. DO NOT seal bats inside a facility as this will create more exposure of humans to bats.
Certain situations may require the hiring of a professional, especially if there is a colony or if bat(s) need removal after normal business hours. Bloomington Animal Care and Control (812-349-3492) will remove nuisance bats after hours but does not provide 24 hour service. 24 hour service is provided by many licensed Wildlife Control Operators listed on Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources website.
Indiana State Board of Animal Health
Indiana State Department of Health
Rabies Education Home
Centers for Disease Control
- Bats Safety and Risk Management at Camp
- Rabies; Bats
- Bats and Rabies – A Public Health Guide