May through October is considered “bat season” in the Twin Tiers as the hot and humid weather increases the nocturnal mammals’ activity. They can become a nuisance and get into your home through the smallest of openings.
Michelle Buchanan from The Critter Chicks here in Elmira says they have had an increase in calls this summer for bats in peoples homes. Many people turn to professionals to remove the bats, but you don’t have to if you take proper precautions. “You can remove them on your own, if you’re comfortable, and you have protective gear, nice thick leather gloves, and you’re careful, you can remove them on your own, or you can call a professional.” If you don’t feel comfortable with removing the animal yourself Buchanan says you can call a neighbor, relative, or as a last resort someone such as herself to come in and remove it for you.
Experts stress that bats will not attack a person unprovoked, if they become cornered or are already sick when you come in contact with them then that can turn into a different situation. According to the Chemung County Health Department, only two percent of bats tested are actually found to have rabies. But if you do find one in your home it is recommended that you take the bat to be tested to be sure you or your family hasn’t been exposed to rabies.
“If we can catch a bat and test it, there’s a real good chance that we’re going to find out that there wasn’t a big risk to the person because it will test negative,” Says Thomas Kump, the Director of Environmental Health at the Chemung County Department of Health.
Many people won’t ever even know if they are bitten while they sleep. So if you wake up with the bat in the room, and you can catch it, health officials say you should get the rabies shot just as a precaution. Rabies is nothing to mess around with when it comes to possible exposure.
“Once someone starts showing signs or symptoms of rabies, that means that they have rabies, and that means that there is nothing that can be done for them.” The best precaution is if you think you have been exposed to rabies go to your local health department and get a referral to get a rabies shot, which is a series of 5 shots over two weeks.