With the bat breeding season in full swing over October and November, we are now seeing more winged wildlife inhabiting most parts of Sydney and New South Wales. While it’s well-known that bats usually prefer to steer clear of humans where possible, the breeding season can often bring with it an influx of sick, young or miscarried pups that find their way into populous streets and residential backyards.
It’s human nature to wish to save a sick or injured bat, but confirmed cases of a fatal disease known as Lyssavirus has prompted a warning from the NSW Department of Health. They advise that you give all bats a wide berth to reduce the risk of contracting a rabies-like disease that attacks your central nervous system. The virus, which is passed on to humans through scratches and bites, requires immediate medical attention. Therefore it’s vital that you treat every bat as if it were a carrier.
What should I do if I’ve been bitten or scratched?
If you’ve been bitten or scratched by a bat, it’s essential that you clean the wound site thoroughly as soon as possible. Apply a generous coating of antiseptic cream with antiviral properties, and head to your nearest medical centre for a preventative vaccine.
Help! There are bats in my yard!
While bats are essential for pollination and dispersal of seeds, they can cause havoc when left to their own devices in your backyard. With the threat of disease now a very real risk as well, there’s every reason to give them their marching orders sooner rather than later.
So, what can you do?
The main reason bats and flying foxes become daily visitors to your yard is the delicious fruit hanging in your trees. Not willing to share, they come out at night to feast, making plenty of mess and noise in the process. If your fruit tree is the problem, consider covering it up with mesh, or remove the tree.
You can also hang CDs near trees to reflect light, or install sensor lights around your property to discourage bats from taking up residence for too long.
The most important thing to remember, however, is that bats are wild animals. Avoid all contact, do not attempt to touch them, and contact a wildlife expert to take care of any sick or injured bats you find on your property.