Can Bats Bite Humans?

While it is possible for bats to bite humans the actual chances of this happening are very slim. There are many popular misconceptions when it comes to bats. The first is that bats will fly down from the sky and attack humans or get tangled in long hair. This could not be further from the truth. If you have ever had a bat fly down in front of you chances are it was chasing after a bug to eat, not trying to kill you. Bats live off of insects, fruit, small animals, and the blood from mammals, they do not view or use humans as a source of food or have any reason to randomly attack you.

Another common myth is that all bats carry rabies. Less than 1% of these winged creatures contract the virus, and most bats that do contract the virus die shortly after. In fact, these creatures catch rabies a lot less often than other animals do. Another common misconception is that hundreds of people die each year from rabies contracted by bats in the US. This is false. There are actually only one to two deaths per year in the United States caused from bats. Furthermore, a person living in the US is more likely to catch polio or leprosy than to contract rabies from a bat.

Theoretically if a bat were to bite you, you would definitely know it. The saying that a person can be bitten by a bat and not even know or feel it is totally bogus. Bat bites feel like sharp needle jabs so you would definitely know if a bat bites you or not. Bats do have small teeth though which means that a bite wound might not be very visible. In any case, you should seek medical attention immediately if you or a loved one are ever bitten by a bat.

Rabies from bats is almost always transmitted through a bite when it does happen. Although very rare, exposures can also occur from contact between infected saliva or nervous tissues and open wounds or the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth. The main source of rabies exposure from bats is a result of careless handling. It is for this reason that individuals should be reminded to never handle a bat, especially barehanded. If you happen to stumble across a bat that is grounded or seems ill or injured you should call your local wildlife operator to have the creature safely and properly removed from the area.

Education and common sense are your best tools when it comes to preventing bat rabies and bat bites. Keep domestic pets vaccinated against rabies and do not leave them outside unsupervised if bats are present. Teach children to never handle bats and never attempt to rescue a bat barehanded. Following all of these precautions should minimize you and your families risk of getting bitten or contracting the rabies virus from bats, but remember both of these are very rare anyways.

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