Bats will sometimes swoop down towards the people watching during the evening emergence, which can be alarming if you aren’t expecting it. This is because flying insects are drawn to the carbon dioxide in human breath and the bats swoop down to eat insects. However, bats won’t attack or hurt humans unless they are seriously provoked.
Visitors should watch out for falling urine and guano, however. It’s recommended to stand outside the fence line and avoid being directly under the bats as they emerge. Some experienced visitors bring umbrellas!
Bats are designated by Florida Statutes Chapter 372 as “Non-Game Wildlife,” making it unlawful to willfully disturb their habitats.
- Please do not throw any objects at the bats or the bat houses.
- Please avoid making loud or high-pitched noises, as the bats are easily disturbed. Parents, please encourage children to comply.
- Maintain a safe distance from the structures by remaining behind the wooden fence of the observation area.
- Beware of falling urine and guano as bats fly overhead.
- NEVER pick up a bat on the ground.
Living Alongside Bats
If you find a bat, do not touch it. If it’s in your home, close it in one room and open a window. If you live in Florida, the following link is a list of local Wildlife Rehabbers: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has five regional offices that you can contact Monday – Friday 8-5pm EST and speak with a representative directly. If you are located outside of northcentral Florida, contact your local or county wildlife care facility.
It’s common to discover bats living in or around your home or work spaces. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a lot of information on bats in human environments and what you can do should you discover bats nearby.
Rabies and Precautions
Bats are wild mammals and do carry rabies; however, rabies typically only infects about 0.5 percent (1 in 200) of the bats in a given population. For comparison, rabies in wild raccoons can occur at up to 35 percent (1 in 3).
Unlike other mammals, rabid bats do not show aggression, but are more likely to be found on the ground, sluggish and easy for children to pick up. Bats found on the ground are therefore much more likely to be rabies-positive than those in flight. Children must be warned to NEVER touch a bat under any circumstance, as bats may bite in self-defense. Bats have incredibly sharp and tiny teeth, and it is not always possible to determine when someone has been bitten, as they may not leave behind visible bite marks. If you see a grounded bat, please notify a trained professional with protective gear and pre-exposure rabies vaccinations to handle them. If a bat must be removed by an untrained adult, use a coffee can with a piece of stiff cardboard. Place the can over the bat and gently slide the cardboard under the can, trapping the bat inside without touching it, or use heavy leather gloves.
For assistance or additional information regarding your visit to the bat houses on campus, contact UF Environmental Health and Safety Pest Management Services, 352-392-1591 or University Police, 352-392-1111.
Bat Conservation Links
Based in Merritt Island, Florida, this nonprofit organization seeks to preserve and protect native bat populations throughout the state. This site includes helpful information on everything from building bat houses to what to do if you find a bat in your home and how to perform a bat exclusion.
Bat Conservation International’s mission is to conserve the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet. Based in Austin, Texas, BCI is devoted to conservation, education and research initiatives involving bats and the ecosystems they serve.
Lubee Bat Conservancy is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to saving fruit bats and their habitats through research, conservation and education. Located in Gainesville, Florida, Lubee houses the largest and most diverse collection of fruit bats in the world. Efforts are focused on working with global conservation partners to protect at-risk bat species. By protecting these bats, Lubee works to conserve more than 145 genera of plants with species that depend on bats for pollination and seed dispersal, the countless organisms that depend on those plants for food and shelter, and ultimately all people who depend on healthy ecosystems.
The annual Florida Bat Festival at the Lubee Bat Conservancy offers an opportunity to view giant fruit bats and enjoy the great outdoors while learning about how bats benefit Florida’s environment and ecosystems worldwide.