The UK is host to 18 species of bat. All are highly protected in law because they are threatened. It is illegal to handle a bat without a licence unless you do so to help an injured bat with the aim of returning it to the wild.
When to Help
|A bat on the ground|
|It may just be exhausted or disorientated but it is in a very vulnerable position so should be moved out of danger and a wildlife rescue contacted for advice.|
|A bat caught by a cat|
|It will need urgent treatment with antibiotics or bacteria from the cats teeth could kill it|
|A bat flying around a house.|
|Close doors, turn off lights and open the windows as wide as possible and the bat should find its way out.|
|A bat hanging on a wall outside.|
|This is fairly common and as long as the bat isn’t in any immediate danger from people or predators it should be left alone.|
|Bats flying around during the day|
|It is not unusual for bats to hunt in daylight at certain times of the year.|
|Bats found in a loft or roofspace.|
|It is common for bats to roost in buildings and illegal to disturb them.|
Capture, Containment and Care
Before attempting to capture a bat, please note the following important information
- It is illegal to handle a bat unless to rescue it from danger or to help a sick or injured bat.
- Although very rare, some bats in the UK have been found to carry rabies.
- Never try to capture a bat in mid flight. You’re unlikely to succeed but if you do you may injure the bat.
In light of the above information, we recommend that you contact a licensed bat carer before touching the bat where possible. We list many on our website or you can also contact the Bat Conservation Trust directly.
If the bat is in immediate danger and you need to move it, pick it up using gloves or a tea towel. In truth they don’t often bite and the smaller species would struggle to break your skin if they did anyway.
Place the bat in a cardboard box with a towel on the bottom. Ensure the lid is secure and that you have provided sufficient air holes. Place the box somewhere warm and quiet and keep children and pets away.
If the bat has been caught by a cat then you must seek urgent help. The bat will need to be given antibiotics within a few hours of being bitten or it may develop fatal septicaemia. Some wildlife rescues are available 24/7 for this sort of emergency and we try to give some indication of availability on our listings. You could also contact local vets – although they will not have facilities for the long term care of the bat, they may be willing to provide a one off dose of antibiotics. Some may even do so free or at a very reduced price.
It is not generally necessary or advisable to provide food and water. Never attempt to force feed water and never offer cow’s milk or alcohol.
It is likely that the bat will be shocked or weakened so supplementary heat can be very helpful here. You can put a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel at one end of the box, either inside, underneath or next to the box, ensuring the bat can get away from the heat if it wants to.
NB – this advice is designed to cover the first couple of hours. If you are not able to get the bat to a wildlife rescue within this time, please at least speak to someone by phone for further advice about care beyond this period.