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Wild Animals/wild bat house care


I'm not really sure any bats have actually moved into my bat house yet, and if still not this summer I'll have to move it. However, I was thinking about if they were here while reading about a bobcat with rabies.  I was thinking what a shame it was we can't reach into the wild animal community and immunize more.  Then I thought of how often bats are thought to carry rabies and wondered my question.
The question is, could a home owner feasibly take a bat house full of hibernating bats to a specialist for health care to help them thrive and prevent diseases like rabies?  
I live in a city with a large veterinary hospital including bat specialists so if this was feasible at all, it certainly would be here.  This is primarily theoretical, of course, as the cost of such health care may be prohibitive.
If anyone would do something like that, it's me.  I've a crippled sparrow that cost me a thousand bucks because an acquaintance brought it to me 24 hrs after the cat attack and I couldn't dishonor it's courage by euthanizing it.  (Contrary to rehabbers assumptions, she's integrated well into my mixed species aviary and is living as well as any of them, it CAN be done.)

Dear Yolanda,

It's best to leave hibernating bat strictly alone.  They will not remain torpid if you handle them, and if they are elicited to fly, they could burn enough calories to not make it through the rest of the winter.

Your heart is in the right place, but vaccinating the bats would not do much good.  First, many of them might already be exposed, and already have antibody titer against rabies.  As such, they might be carriers, but will not get sick unless immunocompromised in some way.  Second, there is no rabies vaccine formulated specifically for bats.  Few, if any, veterinarians would be willing to do this job.  Finally, the bats would have to be vaccinated periodically to keep their titers up.  And since they may get low-level exposure to the virus naturally, they are, essentially, constantly being vaccinated in the wild by *live* virus.

If you are not sure about this, you can consult with the bat specialists.  But I'm guessing they'll say pretty much what I've told you here.

Good luck!


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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.


I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

House Rabbit Society

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I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

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