Skip Navigation
 
 

Bats & Rabies

 

Bats in Ontario may carry rabies. Learn about bats and rabies.

About bats and rabies

Unlike other mammals that carry rabies such as foxes, raccoons and skunks, bats cannot be vaccinated using baits.

Although rabies in bats is rare, bites from rabid bats have caused almost all human cases of rabies in Canada over the past several years. Bats have small, needle-like teeth, and their bites can go easily undetected. The victim might not be aware that a bite has occurred - especially while sleeping.

Identifying bats with rabies

It is not always possible to identify if a bat has rabies. However, rabid bats might show the following signs:

  • They lose the ability to fly.
  • They are active during daylight hours.
  • They are not afraid of noises.
  • They might appear to be lazy.

Facts about bats

In Ontario, there are 2 bat species that will usually roost (nest) in homes:

  • Big brown bat
    • Pale to dark brown fur
    • 7 cm long
    • Weighs 13 - 25 grams
  • Little brown bat
    • Silky reddish fur
    • 4 - 5 cm long
    • Weighs 4 - 8 grams

Bats are nocturnal animals and are most active in the second and third hours after sunset. During the day, they roost in trees and buildings. They are able to squeeze through spaces as small as 6 mm to access roosts. Bats help reduce the insect population and are vital to the ecosystem.

Coming in contact with a bat

Seek medical attention immediately if you are bitten, scratched, or exposed to bat saliva.

If you find a bat in a room with a child or adult who cannot give a reliable history of what happened:

  • Assume direct contact has been made.
  • Notify the Halton Region Health Department by dialing 311 as soon as possible after any incident of possible exposure, even if you do not believe there was a bite or scratch.

If you walk into your home and see a bat:

  • Do not try to capture the bat.
  • Do not touch the bat.
  • Contact Animal Control Services.
    • Burlington, Burlington Animal Shelter, 905-335-3030
    • Halton Hills, Halton Hills Animal Control , 905-877-6235
    • Oakville and Milton, The Oakville & District Humane Society, 905-845-1551

If the bat is available (alive or dead), then it might be sent for testing to rule out potential rabies exposure.

Bat-proof your home

Examine your home for holes that might allow bat entry.

  • Caulk any openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch.
  • Fill electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulking.
  • Use window screens, chimney caps, and draft guards beneath doors to attics.
  • Ensure that all doors to the outside close tightly.

Contact a wildlife or pest control company for professional assistance.

White nose syndrome

White-nose syndrome (WNS) (external link) is a fungus that grows on an affected bat’s face, ears and wings. It is not known to cause any human health issues.

Bats affected by WNS are more likely to come in contact with the general public as they leave their hibernation sites far too early in the winter. A small percentage of bats with WNS might also be rabid. These bats become weak from lack of food and die out on the landscape.

Do not handle any bats that you might encounter. Report any bat deaths to one of the following:

TOP