Mad Dogs and Americans

News Brief by Kip Hansen


featured_image_batsThe U.S. CDC has issued one of its Vital Signs press releases that readers in the United States should be aware of, especially those living in more rural areas.

In the classic of modern American literature, To Kill a Mockingbird, the father of  Scout, the narrator, Atticus Finch, a gentle and mild southern attorney, shocks his children when, at the pleading of  Heck Tate, the town’s sheriff, he takes up a rifle and from a great distance, shoots and kills a rabid dog.  In the 1930s,  “mad dogs”, crazed by rabies, were a serious threat.

Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain in humans and other mammals.  Early symptoms can include fever and tingling at the site of exposure.  These symptoms are followed by one or more of the following symptoms: violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, fear of water, an inability to move parts of the body, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Once symptoms appear, the result is nearly always death.”  — Wiki

The vast majority of the worldwide cases of human rabies, almost always contracted from bites and scratches of infected animals, are the results of dog bites.  This used to be the case in the United States, but here, through laws and regulations requiring the vaccination of pet dogs against rabies, dog-to-human rabies infection has been virtually eliminated.

Animal rabies is still fairly common in the United States, with different areas having more frequent animal vectors of the disease:

Rabies_Risk_factors_CDC[ click here for full sized image ]

It is difficult to see in the image above, and in the full-sized image as well, but the entire country, including Alaska and Puerto Rico (but not Hawaii) is marked for the presence of rabies in bats.  The Eastern Coast marked for bats and raccoons, the great Midwest for bats and skunks with the same for parts of California,  with Arizona and New Mexico bats and fox or fox-and-skunks.  Puerto Rico has bats and mongoose.

The CDC issues this specific warning and recommendation:

“Staying away from wildlife, especially bats, is key to preventing rabies in people. Bats carry rabies virus in every U.S. state except Hawaii, and can spread the virus year-round. However, anecdotal case reports suggest that people may not be fully aware that bats pose a rabies risk – and so they may not seek life-saving rabies PEP if they are bitten or scratched by a bat. If people wake up with a bat in the room, CDC recommends that they assume they may have been exposed to rabies and see a healthcare provider right away to determine if they need to receive PEP [Postexposure prophylaxis] for rabies.”

When I was young, rabies shots were anecdotally believed to involve a long series of [reportedly] extremely painful shots in the stomach.  A historical recounting states:  “The treatment consisted of 25 injections of rabies vaccine: three on the first day, two on the second, two on the third, and one each day after for 18 days. Each dose was slightly stronger, or more virulent, than the preceding, so that the body could build up immunity.”

Today the treatment is easier and can be administered by your family doctor:

Rabies shots include:

  • A fast-acting shot (rabies immune globulin) to prevent the virus from infecting you. Part of this injection is given near the area where the animal bit you if possible, as soon as possible after the bite.
  • A series of rabies vaccines to help your body learn to identify and fight the rabies virus. Rabies vaccines are given as injections in your arm. You receive four injections over 14 days.

I have had the experience of having a bat in the house, flying about in its rather spooky silent fashion.   A workable method of getting a bat out of the house is to hold a towel like a  matador’s cape, down low, and then toss it up, still spread out, into the flight path of the bat.  The bat will hit the towel without hurting itself and fall to the floor.  Bats cannot take flight from the ground.  If the bat is still tangled in the towel, one can carefully pick up whole package (if not, capture the grounded bat with the towel, carefully), take it outside near a tree or other vertical structure, and shake out the bat gently onto the ground.  It will find its way to the tree, climb up high enough to get air-borne, and fly away. Washing up carefully after any contact with wild animals is a must.  The CDC says “If people wake up with a bat in the room, CDC recommends that they assume they may have been exposed to rabies and see a healthcare provider right away”.

Bottom Line:

  1. Bats are your greatest risk of contracting rabies in the United States. Be aware of this threat.
  1. All animals, domestic or wild, that are acting strangely or out of character, should be avoided and never approached — especially known carriers of rabies:  bats, dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes and skunks.   If in doubt, call your local animal control officer or animal rescue.
  1. Don’t Panic! “The U.S. averages [only] 1 to 3 human cases of rabies a year now”.  Even so, if you think you may have been exposed, do see your doctor immediately.

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Author’s Comment Policy:

I love the outdoors, land or sea, and have spent a great deal of time just poking around in the wild — much to my gain.  No animal deserves to be molested, harmed or killed solely because they might be inconvenient.  Animals or insects that target humans and/or spread disease must be controlled, of course.

Bats are having a hard time in the United States.  They have long been targeted and killed on sight by people with misconceptions and superstitions about them.  In the present, many species are dying of white-nose syndrome.   But while we love them, and put up bat houses for them, we must be aware of the threat of rabies that they represent.

I would love to hear your bat stories.

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David Blackall9
June 22, 2019 11:12 pm

Yes that is the best method for getting rid of bats from the house. I wish my parents knew that. Dad was a city boy who became a farmer. When a bat turned up they were crazy, chasing it around with a broom, while we children were terrified. I enjoyed your account of bat’s, dogs, rabies and the outdoors. When I studied microbiology I watched a film shot in India of some poor people convulsing and dying of rabies. It was absolutely horrible, horrifying, and I wondered why it was included in the curriculum. The convulsions, twitching and frothing of the mouth particularly disturbing.

R Shearer
Reply to  David Blackall9
June 23, 2019 6:06 am

I wish my father had known about this technique also. My dad was a farmer who became a city boy. Once in a while a bat would get into our house. My dad used a tennis racket to take care of the problem and the bats didn’t do to well.

Reply to  R Shearer
June 23, 2019 7:25 am

Large fish net works well. What also works well is opening the window if you don’t have screens. I get them in my house all the time when window is open in summer. I just ignore them and eventually they fly out the way they came in.

R Shearer
Reply to  ironargonaut
June 23, 2019 8:00 am

It was always an exciting event for my family. I recall my mother opening the doors and sometimes the bats did fly out them. There is no way we could ignore the bats, however.

Reply to  R Shearer
June 23, 2019 12:42 pm

David Blackall9, R Shearer, ironargonaut ==> Thanks for sharing your bat stories here. Never had any luck with opening the doors and windows myself — nor discovered how the occasional bat would find its way in.

Big T
Reply to  R Shearer
June 23, 2019 12:22 pm

This thread is the most ignorant piece of crap I have seen in a long time! When we get a bat in the house, simply hop out of bed, open doors and windows, and oh my goodness ignorant people, they go outside! Duh!!!

Reply to  Big T
June 23, 2019 12:46 pm

Big T ==> Don’t know where you live but many (most) homes in the US have window screens on al the openable windows, thus that route if out for most. In the house I describe, we had screens in the summer and storm windows in the winter, that had to be put up and changed with the seasons.

Once a bat finds its way into the ointerior of the house, into rooms without a door to the outside, it can be difficult to near-impossible to convince them to go where you want them to go.

Maybe you don’t live in a house with these types of impediments to the simply opening windows and doors solution.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
June 24, 2019 9:30 am

It is very easy.

leave clear the opening (door, window, whatever) where you want the bat to go;

stand at all other openings with the towel being waved … or just wave your arms around in the openings you want to “obstruct” (more than one person may be needed); STAY IN YOUR SPOT AND DON’T CHASE.

the bat will circle a typical the room not more than 10 times before it hits the opening that is left unobstructed (unless you are chasing it around).

[yes I said not more than 10 times … be patient & prove me wrong]

Reply to  Kip Hansen
June 27, 2019 9:05 am

Don’s correct. I’ve had bats get in. Open a door or window and wave/throw something (towel, net) at them. Eventually, via their sonar, they will find the opening. Born in the big city, a military brat; yet grew up in the country. I’ve lived in a big city of 200,000 or more, metro area, about 1 million for just about 10 of them. Much of the time in areas of cities 100,000 or less; mostly 10 to 20,000, sometimes smaller than that, and now out in the county between municipal corporations of 15K, 7K and 3K, respectively.

PM Dolan
Reply to  David Blackall9
June 23, 2019 9:03 am

Years ago, I owned a Dive Store in Arizona. One evening, I caught a vampire bat in the store, and removed it gently outdoors. Lucky (I guess…) for me, I had already had the rabies series of shots due to an encounter with a cat that was suspected to be rabid… A series of 5 shots over a miserable two weeks (it was less fun than typhoid or yellow fever vaccinations I’ve had), purple goo and a shot of gamma globulin in the fundament that made sitting almost impossible for a day, but I survived, more or less.

I have bats living nearby now, and enjoy watching, at twilight as the feed, cheering them on to eat more mosquitos!

Reply to  PM Dolan
June 23, 2019 12:49 pm

PM Dolan ==> “a Dive Store in Arizona” ???? Where do people scuba in Arizona? Just curious….

(We do have dive stores in upstate New York, and they often dive in lakes in Pennsylvania)

June 22, 2019 11:13 pm

I remember reclining on the roof of a riverboat on at dusk in central Borneo as it slowly chugged upriver, suddenly realizing the sky overhead was filled with thousands of fruit bats, in total silence, all flying one direction, wingspans up to 6 ft, from just overhead to tiny specks at the limit of vision. We watched in awe the evening commute from mountain caves to the jungle feeding grounds, until it was too dark to see.

David Blackall
Reply to  Richard
June 23, 2019 2:54 am

Here in wollongong, NSW, Australia the fruit bat’s are numerous and congegate in one place on sunset before they set out to feed. This meeting of thousands devastates the trees in which they land. It is like a debriefing before flying out. They circle around and around. The other day I was driving past and they weren’t there, I wondered if the council had done something about eradication.

Reply to  David Blackall
June 23, 2019 3:21 am

you dream, I am amazed that so many councils will NOT eradicate the damned things from city centres school zones etc especially as Lyssa virus and Hendra ar now found too often in flying fox colonies
batcrap all over one NSW schools lunch area still wasnt enough to get removals happening.
I have had a bat fly into my bedroom one summer night , I had the main doors open and it got lost, simply turned the light off ,open the windows and they tend to zip out , was fun watching the dogs wondering what the big moth was;-)

ps Lyssa is a rabies like nasty. Hendra kills horses and the odd person in contact with a sick horse.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  David Blackall
June 23, 2019 4:21 am

Just be careful of their droppings and bites. They carry a virus similar to rabies.

kristi silber
Reply to  David Blackall
June 23, 2019 10:50 pm

I once camped at Mary Valley Station on Cape York Peninsula, home of one of the world’s largest little red flying fox campsites, if not the largest. I heard it was 2 million when I was there, but I’ve seen a figure of 10 million. At any rate, it was incredible. At dusk there were flying foxes from horizon to horizon. I slept in the open near a small pond, and in the morning they came swooping in for water. Yeah, I got poop on my sleeping bag, but it was worth it.

Another time I was with a group taking care of orphaned spectacled flying foxes. They were the sweetest things, they’d just hang out on your t-shirt. Sharp claws, though.

I think flying foxes are cool. Excellent pollinators and seed dispersers. I can see how they could be a pest in urban areas, though.

Reply to  Richard
June 23, 2019 12:53 pm

Fruit bats/flying foxes ==> I have seen the flying foxes that congregate in the trees of Sydney’s Botanical Gardens. Marvelous creatures.

Like almost anything — too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Thanks for your stories.

Irritable Bill.
June 22, 2019 11:18 pm

No worries, put some windmills along the bats flight path, the greens will support it all the way.

Reply to  Irritable Bill.
June 23, 2019 1:42 am

Those windmills really seem to work

“Herring Gulls are down 82%, European Shag down 51%, Razorbills down 55%. The list goes on…”

Reply to  mwhite
June 23, 2019 5:43 am

A fact that the extinction morons ignore…

Reply to  Irritable Bill.
June 23, 2019 12:55 pm

Windpower farms are killing bats in California as well, in the Tehachapi Mountains.

June 22, 2019 11:30 pm

I’m in the California High Desert, surrounded by hundreds of wind turbines. Few bats survive in the area. But be aware that the tiny little vampire bat is able to jump three feet in the air and take flight from there. And there is certainly no problem for them to take of from a run. They kill millions of cattle per year, including in the US.

They are the only species of bat that even many bat scientists vote to kill off.

Reply to  Keith DeHavelle
June 23, 2019 1:00 pm

Keith ==> Yes, just mentioned that above. wasn’t aware the the little vampires could hop into the air….

It is my understanding that it is rabies carried by the vampire bats that is responsible for cattle deaths (and many human rabies cases as well).

Steven T Burnett
June 22, 2019 11:47 pm

We get 1-2 bats per year in the house.

One mummifoes itself in the dryer, only found it when we replaced the old units.

Reply to  Steven T Burnett
June 23, 2019 1:01 pm

Steve ==> There’s one for the bat stories book!

June 22, 2019 11:54 pm


In the UK bats are a protected species and if they roost in your house they may not be removed with a towel or by any other method. Their presence would also be taken into account if development was planned nearby.

Mind you, seagulls are also a protected species as I bleary eyed watch two of the local population on the roof opposite noisily raising their young. Perhaps I can claim that seagulls carry rabies and we can get the wretched creatures culled by way of contraception methods as in recent decades their numbers have soared.

Summer wouldn’t be summer without stories of seagulls swooping onto holiday makers and stealing their pasties.

So about this article you need to write about rabies in seagulls…..

michael hart
Reply to  tonyb
June 23, 2019 12:26 am


Reply to  michael hart
June 23, 2019 1:40 am


Thanks. So the plan is double pronged. We put seagull contraceptives in crisps whilst Kip writes about the well known fact that 97% of biologists certify that seagulls are highly rabid.


Reply to  tonyb
June 23, 2019 6:09 am

97%????? Does that mean we will have seagull deniers… and seriously condoms in crisps…. how would they get them on…. to get serious funding you have to link this to climate change… something like 97% of seagull scientists have shown that rabies is on the increase in seagulls (especially in chip eating seagulls)Blah blah Blah Climate change Blah Blah extinction blah blah CO2 Blah Blah lack of funding ….

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  tonyb
June 23, 2019 7:17 am

Love the idea but sooner rather than later the contraceptive crisps are going to get inadvertently served to customers while the seagulls copulate unhindered.
The resultant lawsuits should be epic entertainment.

Reply to  michael hart
June 23, 2019 8:14 am

While jetty fishing in New Jersey, I left the bait bucket with my Brother while I worked my way out further on the jetty.

My Brother, baited his hook then put the bait bucket behind him while he fished off the jetty.
By behind, I mean about two feet from his back, well within reach.

Looking back, I saw my Brother blithely fishing while a flock of seagulls were on, about and fighting over bait bucket space.
Surf and current noise prevented voice communications unless immediately adjacent to the other person. I had to climb over jetty boulders while dodging waves to get close enough to catch his attention. I knew it wasn’t good when seagulls were leaving the flock around the bucket.

There were three minnows left and no squid; but lots of loud excited seagulls.
The squid, we purchased in a bait shop about three miles away. The minnows, we had caught in shallow bay water; taking about an hour to catch enough before we hiked to the jetty.
My Brother said he wondered why seagulls were flying just a couple of feet over his head.

I took the bucket with me when I climbed back out the jetty. When the minnows ran out, I caught green crabs between the jetty boulders.

Reply to  ATheoK
June 23, 2019 1:12 pm

ATheoK ==> A couple of years ago, there was a pelcian, named George by local surf fishermen, who would hang around the men and women fishing and beg bait fish or “trhow-away” fish caught by the people there.

He was quite tame — and respected the bait buckets though….

Strictly speaking, it was illegal to feed him, or any of the sea birds.

Reply to  michael hart
June 23, 2019 1:08 pm

michael hart ==> Thanks for that video — my wife and I had the same thing happen at a wildlife park in Florida — the culprit was a blackbird — swooped down and stole a whole unopened packet of chips from our table and flew off, other birds in pursuit attempting to steal the stolen prize!

But shoplifting seagulls — what is thew world coming to!

Adam Gallon
Reply to  tonyb
June 23, 2019 1:34 am
michael hart
Reply to  Adam Gallon
June 23, 2019 3:59 am

I thought someone was chucking it pieces of meat until I read the title at the end.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
June 23, 2019 1:16 pm

Allan ==> small, little bats….

Reply to  tonyb
June 23, 2019 2:44 am

“… In the UK bats are a protected species and if they roost in your house they may not be removed with a towel or by any other method. … ”

This seems incredible to me that people would take that view and make law to that effect (see my tale down the page). Within oz we use <99% of the rest of Australia for bats and other defecating animals to live within. After a few experiences with bats I’m not interested in having bats perching in or around a home. Their defecating practices are vile and smells horrible on a hot day, a clear health hazard as well. I’d be seriously considering legal action for damages if I were being forced to live with bats perching in a stairwell. That law would otherwise certainly be getting broken.

Reply to  WXcycles
June 23, 2019 1:18 pm

WXcycles ==> Yes — the problems arise when animals and humans have conflicts of interest — and when animals threaten safety and health. The Eco Warriors have piushed through many a stupid law forgetting this.

Reply to  tonyb
June 23, 2019 5:29 am

Forget rabies. Just show the seagull knocking innocent babies birds off cliffs and eating them alive. Seagulls are actually very nasty birds. The only thing they are good for is eating the Morman crickets each spring (I know when the crickets hatch by the arrival of the seagulls) and for keeping the equipment operator at the landfill awake by swooping at him and making a large volume of squawking. They also clean up food scraps at fast food places.

R Shearer
Reply to  Sheri
June 23, 2019 6:13 am

I suppose those crickets ride their bikes around in pairs and come to your door to talk to you. At least that what the Mormons do around here.

Reply to  R Shearer
June 23, 2019 1:20 pm

R Shearer ==> Remember to invite them in for a little refreshment . . . nice kids.

Reply to  tonyb
June 23, 2019 1:03 pm

tonyb ==> Hmmm….that’s an idea for a new essay…..I’d have to make thew whole thing up though, so more suited to RealClimate site….

June 22, 2019 11:58 pm

Thanks for a nice write up on a subject that deserves it.

According to the CDC Bats are indeed the vector in “roughly 70%” of the fatal cases in the US. However as this CDC article notes, this may be because people are not aware of the risk from bats. I’m inclined to agree with that assessment. Now readers here are informed thanks to your efforts.

It was not always that way, even after dogs were immunized.

Reply to  rah
June 23, 2019 12:32 am

What about natural “cure” for rabies like vitamin c – rabies is nothing special to treat.

[???? .mod]

Reply to  Natural
June 23, 2019 3:24 am

Good luck with that. Arsenic is natural.

Reply to  Natural
June 23, 2019 3:46 am

There are sources on the internet that claim “Rabies can be cured at home by using the following home remedies like Cumin seeds, walnuts and vitamin rich diet.” and “Rabies can be cured without vaccination with natural remedies like vitamin-C and vitamin-B rich diet.”

(I won’t provide links but you know how to search for the above if you’re interested)

Some are more moderate saying that natural remedies should be used after immunization to speed recovery.

There are more rabid (!) sites/sources run by anti-vaxxers.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Natural
June 23, 2019 4:46 am

Darwin at work.
Pls carry on.

Reply to  Natural
June 23, 2019 5:33 am

Natural—there’s always one in every crowd……Keeps the scammers rich, though.

Reply to  Sheri
June 23, 2019 6:54 am

Yeah, that sort of thing would “work” if one had not actually been exposed to rabies. Otherwise, think of it as evolution in action.

Pamela Gray
Reply to  Natural
June 23, 2019 7:33 am

I’ve got one! Send children who have been bitten to a pediatric chiropractor! There is one I believe in Boise Idaho that can cure just about anything by cracking away on a child. I kid you not.

Hey natural person…check old cemeteries for the number of unnamed babies and young mothers. Filled with headstones. Natural cures can take a flying leap off a cliff.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Natural
June 23, 2019 9:38 am

With 1 to 3 cases of rabies per year in the US, it is a little tough to get a double-blind trial with statistical significance. It would be more like a coin toss! Why try an unproven remedy when there is a vaccine treatment readily available?

Back in the ’70s, I met a chemist who had worked with Linus Pauling. He swore by the efficacy of vitamin C for treating colds. Based on his personal recommendation, the next few times I got a cold, I tried massive doses of C. The cold took just as long to resolve as when I just slept a lot. Based on my experience, I wouldn’t put much stock in vitamin C working with rabies. If it doesn’t work, the result is a lot worse than a cold taking longer to go away.

I think that you suggesting vitamin C as a “cure” for rabies is irresponsible.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
June 23, 2019 8:39 pm

The cold virus (actually a catch-all term for a set of hundreds of viral strains) is actually rather benign. What we call the common cold is a disproportionate immune response similar to an allergy. Vitamin C is an immunostimulant and thus highly unlikely to reduce a cold’s duration, more likely to increase it actually.

The rabies virus gradually spreads from the initial infection site through the nervous system. Symptoms may not manifest for weeks. If it reaches the brain, fatality rate is in the 90th percentile due to complications (inflammatory meningitis, brain damage).

Rabies is no joke. Don’t take any chances with it.

Reply to  Natural
June 23, 2019 1:25 pm

Natural cures for Rabies ==> Readers — any claim that so-called natural remedies can cure rabies are FALSE and DANGEROUSLY SO. If you think, or even suspect, or even are afraid that you might have been exposed to rabies (you, your children, or pets):

PLEASE — seek professional medical attention at once.

Never ever listen to voices claiming such irresponsible ideas — you do so at the risk of your very lives.

Pillage Idiot
June 22, 2019 11:59 pm

The kids came running to get me when they discovered a bat flying around the house. I went to grab work gloves and a leather jacket (just in case of rabies). By the time I returned to the scene of the crime, the bat had flown down the stairwell from the second floor to the dining room. It was then occupied flying nice circles around the chandelier.

Despite an utterly predictable flight pattern, I was never close in my attempts to grab the bat with two hands. (I was a three sport athlete in college and the bat was far quicker than I was.)

I then tried the towel technique – which only resulted in slightly closer whiffs.

I finally retrieved our large fish landing net. I wanted to gently catch and release the bat, so my technique was to throw the large net up right in front of the bat. Hopefully he would fly straight into it since he was flying nearly perfect race-track ovals.

Instead, it looked like a cartoon, and my kids and wife were laughing so hard they were in tears. No matter how quickly I raised the net, the bat would instantaneously dodge 18″ and avoid the net. I swear the bat was making 90 degree turns while flying fairly rapidly.

I finally had to make a tennis serve motion with the net from behind the bat. He still saw it coming and dodged just enough that I caught him on the dining room table with the hard edge of the net handle rather than the soft netting.

I quickly scooped him up in my gloves and took him outside. When flying, he was about a hand & a half in size. While he was hurt in my hands, he looked just slightly larger than a field mouse as his wings were tightly tucked in. (I believe it was probably a Little Brown Myotis.)

My kids were all crowded around to get a close look. I apologized and said I had probably broken one of his wings when I swatted him out of the sky. We put him on the porch rail, and 2-3 minutes later he shook his head, got his body back into a good posture, and crawled to the edge of the rail and flew away. (The kids cheered – Dad was not a murderer after all!)

Reply to  Pillage Idiot
June 23, 2019 1:31 pm

Idiot ==> Great story — great memory for your kids. Glad the bat survived.

The towel trick takes a quick hand and a steady eye….and maybe a slow-ish bat.

michael hart
June 23, 2019 12:23 am

Only last night I was walking and admiring the elegant, silent creatures as they flitted past my head on the local canal tow-path. I suspect that they actually like to do this because large mammals tend to be a focal point for insects. I wonder if they also use human movement or sounds as echo-location beacons?

I certainly feel like I see more of them than in years gone by. If this is one consequence of a gently warming world then I am all for it.

Reply to  michael hart
June 23, 2019 1:34 pm

Michael ==> When we were biys, camping in the California deserts with VColeman lanterns for light, the bugs would gather, and soon the bats to eat the, Quite a show.

One time, we threw little balls of uncooked hamburger up into the air, which they would catch, over and over.

John Gross
June 23, 2019 12:50 am

Kip –
“No animal deserves to be molested, harmed or killed solely because they might be inconvenient.”

My wife is a gentle soul who would totally agree with you. Except that as a keen gardener she just knows that slugs are not really animals.

michael hart
Reply to  John Gross
June 23, 2019 4:24 am

Unter-molluscs sounds more refined. A bit like the salt they dislike so much.

Things which eat our food don’t come very high up the pecking order in my view.

Reply to  John Gross
June 23, 2019 6:01 am

They ain’t plants!

Reply to  John Gross
June 23, 2019 1:38 pm

John ==> Nothing that slimy can be a real animal….

Seriously though, we do have to be pragmatic and not let the beasts eat up the food we grow for ourselves. when we garden extensively, we would plant a few patches of lettuce and such over on one side, and let the bugs have at it there, but were merciless in our much larger patch. Such mercy did not apply to white flies….

Ian Magness
June 23, 2019 1:21 am

Will bats be decimated by climate change?
All bats are off.

paul courtney
Reply to  Ian Magness
June 23, 2019 6:04 am

Ian: You are obviously not a climate scientist. If you were, you’d already know:
1. bats ARE decimated by climate change;
2. You’d already have a published article confirming your theory; and
3. the bats need to be sacrificed by wind turbines TO SAVE THEM!

Thank gaia they don’t resemble a cult.
P.S.- I got the joke, wanted to do my own riff.

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  paul courtney
June 23, 2019 8:57 am

paul, you are wasting perfectly good bats.

It is only the VIRGIN bats that are sacrificed upon wind turbine blades that appease Gaia.

Ben Vorlich
June 23, 2019 1:34 am

Here in Limousin we have bat’s in our barn. Having observed them over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that evicting them is impossible, they can squeeze through the smallest gap and there are too many gaps to block. I’m rather fond of them seeing them for the first time in Spring is another sign of approaching summer, along with the Cranes flying over, swallow and cuckoos arriving.

As they eat flying insects they and the insects can be seen flying round our single street lamp. On one occasion a bat flew into the lamp and partially stun itself, but recovered enough to fly off before hitting the ground.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 23, 2019 1:41 pm

Ben ==> We had, and enjoyed, the bats that lived in our old stone grist mill. It was one of these that accidentally visited out dining room.

michael hart
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 23, 2019 6:17 pm

Ben, bats aren’t the only flying creatures that force themselves into buildings through small holes. A couple of years ago a Wren (bat-sized, I would say) found it’s way into my bedroom, under the eaves, though a loft space, and through an intermediate airing cupboard. It then casually flew around my bedroom, checking it out for about twenty minutes, occasionally perching on the drawers about 18 inches from my head as I watched in complete amazement. I eventually opened a window to allow for a quicker exit, but it appeared totally unconcerned throughout and in no hurry to leave. Twenty four hours later it did almost exactly the same thing again.

E J Zuiderwijk
June 23, 2019 2:16 am

The occasional cases of rabies in the UK are in people who got infected on holiday in particular in Asia, and were so naive to not even think of getting help.

Rabies was endemic in Western Europe until the 1970s, carried by foxes. The early attempts at eradication consisted of shooting all the foxes, including the healthy ones. This was counterproductive, because the dead foxes were replaced from the east by a population of foxes from the reservoir of the infection in the east, countries like Poland and Russia. The much better strategy was to shoot only the infected fox and replace that animal by a healthy fox in situe. That interupts the transmission chain sufficiently to drive the disease eastwards.

Reply to  E J Zuiderwijk
June 23, 2019 1:42 pm

E J ==> This is true in the United States as well — these cases are counted separately from those contracted at home.

June 23, 2019 2:26 am

A new fiber-optic cable was routed through my stairwell in a rather lax way by an NBN contractor and the result was it created a perch for small bats within our stairwell. The problem with bats is they pee and defecate all over walls and floors. They are not animals that should be anywhere with a human residence IMO.

Anyone walking up the stairs inevitably bought bat droppings into the units and this created a very annoying and disgusting mess and health hazard. The only way I could encourage them to move on was to spray the entire cable with insect surface spray. Then keep reapplying it every few months. Eventually some self-closing doors were used and we found that if only one of the doors was open they wouldn’t perch inside. They preferred two exits.

This situation (and others) confirmed that humans don’t have to and should not share their homes with wildlife which defecates within structures. Though the problem was created by the cable installers and they were not interested in rectifying the problems they created. I even considered removing it so they get the message the installation was irresponsible and unacceptable (i.e. batsh!t-crazy). To top it off only one of the units was ever connected to the NBN cable as no one else even wanted it.

Reply to  WXcycles
June 23, 2019 1:45 pm

WXcycles ==> Yet another type of human-animal conflict. We must be sensible about these things.

Even pet animals can be a threat to human health if the issues are not managed properly based on solid information.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
June 23, 2019 9:51 pm

Dogs won’t urinate or defecate in their beds unless too sick to move or they have no other choice (locked in a cage). And for our three dogs atleast, they use the same few areas of the backyard to do their business as long we pick those spots up every couple days. (Letting the poop age a day will dry a solid shell around it and make it much less messy to scoop.)

For rats, bats, birds, and other wild animals/vermin, the bathroom is whereever they happen to be. Rats in particular are practically incontinent. They urinate EVERYWHERE, even when scurrying around.

David Blackall
June 23, 2019 2:58 am

Here in wollongong, NSW, Australia the fruit bat’s are numerous and congegate in one place on sunset before they set out to feed. This meeting of thousands devastates the trees in which they land. It is like a debriefing before flying out. They circle around and around. The other day I was driving past and they weren’t there, I wondered if the council had done something about eradication.

June 23, 2019 3:42 am

Lindeman Island is a resort island in the Whitsunday Islands on the Oz great barrier reef. Shore Island is a totally uninhabited island about 4 miles south east of Lindeman. Shore has a huge colony of flying fox, [Aus fruit bats]. Southern tourists are amazed when they take off just before dusk, & fly over Lindeman on their way to their feeding grounds. The stream can be almost a half mile wide, & go on for almost an hour.

No rabies in OZ, but these things carry a virus which they can pass to horses, which then infects humans. A number of horse people & vets have died of this, as it is quick & deadly.

Shaw also has a large breeding area of the Blue Monach butterfly. Many of these large butterfly migrate to other islands & the mainland again in their thousands. For days the air is full of these butterflies flying purposefully in a chosen direction.

On one occasion I was steaming north west from Lindeman in an island ferry at about 12 knots, & was continually passed by dozens of these big blue beauties. I previously had no idea that butterflies could fly at that speed, such distances over water.

Reply to  Hasbeen
June 23, 2019 6:21 am

The fruit bats we have in Australia are amongst the biggest bats with wing span to around 1.00m. (Mega Chiroptera.)They roost in large numbers (up to 400,000) in bush land right across the Northern coast of Australia and down the East coast to Melbourne. They are protected (despite carrying Lyssavirus a fatal rabies-like virus), Hendra virus (which kills horses and people), Ross River fever and numerous other dangerous diseases.
We have a widespread number of bat lovers and other well meaning people who rescue ill and injured bats, and rear abandoned young bats that would normally perish. Over the past twenty odd years these folk have raised tens of thousands of bats from bay to release. They are treated like pets and being communicating mammals the word has spread.
A result of this is that we appear to have ‘domesticated’ (tamed) the species and as a result they now choose to make their roosts adjacent to human habitation, with all the attendant smells, noise and risk of disease that this entails. There are over thirty communities in Queensland alone that have applied for the expensive bureaucratic permits they require to ‘safely’ move the bats out.
As happens in climastrology, this has created a scientific and bureaucratic community that is funded to research and protect these ‘threatened’ animals despite the demonstrable risk they present to human health and well-being.

John Tillman
Reply to  Leonardo
June 23, 2019 11:57 am

Megabats were once suspected of being flying primates, based not just on size but some anatomical details. However genetic analysis showed them to be members of Chiroptera.

As with tarsiers, monkeys and apes, some bat groups can’t make their own vitamin C, but their GULO gene is broken in a different way from ours and also from guinea pigs’ and capybaras’.

Reply to  Leonardo
June 23, 2019 1:53 pm

Leonardo ==> It is fairly common for kind-hearted souls to take ill-advised and, in the end destructive, actions in defense of “poor sick animals”. Like the chips stealing birds in comments above, this does not really help the animals, it only re-creates them from something natural into an artificially created pest.

Reply to  Hasbeen
June 23, 2019 1:49 pm

Hasbeen ==> Great nature story — bats and butterflies (both of which i have written about here). Thanks for sharing!

In the Caribbean, I have seen butterflies miles and miles from land….they often stop off for a rest on the mast or stays of our sailboat.

Further at sea, in a very nasty storm, we had several small tropical birds take refuge with us — staying until the weather cleared.

Tom Johnson
June 23, 2019 4:02 am

We once lived in a board and batten sided house with bats living in the gaps between the boards. They would get in through knot holes in the battens. Many mornings they would awaken us around 4 AM as they quite loudly entered their den. Several bats would be flying around a knothole in the siding outside our bedroom. We surmised that no one wanted to be the first one in, since they would be at the bottom of a column of bats who had no consideration of those below them in their daily production of guano. They seemed to be milling around the hole, until someone finally went in.

Occasionally one of the bats would get into the house, and fly around at night. They were anything but silent, in a quiet house. We would awaken from the flapping of its wings, wop-wop-wop, at about one second intervals.

We quickly figured out an easy way to get them out. Our bedroom had a sliding glass doorwall, and an outside light. We would simply open the doorwall, and turn on the exterior light. They simply flew out of the room.

We finally found their entry point, with their help, and were able to keep them out permanently. One evening there was somewhat of a commotion of squeaking and flapping at the cathedral ceiling peak in our living room. Two bats were…uh…making new little bats. We started making a commotion down below, and they escaped out a small hole in the boards. We filled the hole, and none were ever seen inside the house again. It’s likely our heating bill went down, too.

Reply to  Tom Johnson
June 23, 2019 1:57 pm

Tom ==> ah, led to a solution by those &%$#$()( bats!

Good story.

Samuel C Cogar
June 23, 2019 4:39 am

@ Kip Hansen states:

Bats cannot take flight from the ground.

A tad off-subject, but ……..

Kip, your above statement is exactly one of the reasons why I disagree with the scientific consensus that pterodactyls or pterosaurs were both “ground-feeding” and “flying” carnivore reptiles.

Like the “flying” bats, I do not think it was possible for a “flying” pterosaur to “take flight from the ground”. Compare the following images …. and decide for yourself.

A bat with its per se “wings” outspread.

Artistic representation of a pterodactyl or pterosaur (a now extinct flying reptile) with its per se “wings” outspread.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 23, 2019 5:47 am

A vampire bat walks on its thumbs, and has no slightest difficulty with a running takeoff or simply jumping straight up into flight.

I’ve seen animations of pterosaurs that show them configured, and walking, in a similar manner. Don’t “decide for yourself,” decide based upon its actual capability.

I’d encourage you uo look at videos of each (including vampire bats running and jumping on treadmills) before writing these creatures off.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle (@DeHavelle)

HD Hoese
Reply to  Keith DeHavelle
June 23, 2019 10:09 am

There used to be an island behind the Chandeleurs in Louisiana that had a large accumulation of non-breeding Magnificent Frigate Birds, wing span of a meter, not so magnificent when they steal from other birds. They are supposed to have the largest wingspan per body weight. It seemed to be an analog to pterodactyls. I think they require a little altitude and wind. Probably not easy (impossible?) from water, but waves can have a lot of altitude and wind. Books still say they don’t land on land, but they do have to lay eggs.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Keith DeHavelle
June 23, 2019 12:11 pm

Keith DeHavelle – June 23, 2019 at 5:47 am

A vampire bat walks on its thumbs, and has no slightest difficulty with a running takeoff or simply jumping straight up into flight.

Length: Common vampire bat: 3.1 in.
Mass: Common vampire bat: 1.2 oz

Jumping straight up for 2 or 3 inches shouldn’t be much of a problem for a creature weighing only 1.2 oz, ……. but similar creatures that weighed 1 to 5 and upwards of 100+ pounds, with wings which were connected to the tip of their forelegs and hindlegs, respectively, that had to be held tight against their abdomen in order to “jump”, ……. sure as ell didn’t give said creature much time to getta “flapping” to create “lift” before their arse was back on the ground. Your vampire bat, to wit:

When on the ground, most bats can only crawl awkwardly. A few species such as the New Zealand lesser short-tailed bat and the common vampire bat are agile on the ground. Both species make lateral gaits (the limbs move one after the other) when moving slowly but vampire bats move with a bounding gait (all limbs move in unison) at greater speeds, the folded up wings being used to propel them forward.

Keith, I do not believe it was aerodynamically possible for pterosaurs to fly. With a strong wind they could probably get enough “lift” to get off the ground. But bat skeletons and pterosaur skeletons are totally different in bones that support the out-stretched “wings”.

I believe that pterosaurs were “non-flying” predator lizards that used their per se “wings” to feed in shallow waters in the same fashion as the Black Heron does when it is “fishing”. A long neck, large head, long pointed beak w/sharp teeth are characteristic of a shallow water “wading” predator.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 23, 2019 2:00 pm

Keith and Sam ==> I don’t know about the pterosaurs — but have always agreed with the Wiki quote above. In my experience, I have never run across a bat that could take off flying from the ground.

John Tillman
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 23, 2019 11:26 am

Even the largest pterosaurs could take off from level land by pole-vaulting into the air with their powerful forelimbs.

Their anatomy was very different from bats.

Sharing its habitat with T. rex, Quetzalcoatlus couldn’t have survived on the ground unless it could launch itself just by leaping. It couldn’t run fast enough to escape the giant predator.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
June 23, 2019 12:55 pm

And yet Witton and Habib concluded that pterosaurs took off quadrupedally, as do bats. Birds, being bipedal, launch from their legs alone, which less powerful take off method limits the size of flying birds.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  John Tillman
June 24, 2019 3:57 am

Birds, being bipedal, launch from their legs alone, which less powerful take off method limits the size of flying birds.

John Tillman, getta clue, ……. there are several species of aquatic (sea) birds that can’t get airborne via use of their legs alone. They are like 98% DEPENDENT upon the wind lifting them up into the air and keeping them airborne.

When there is no wind a blowing, ….. the albatrosses can’t get off the ground or water.

Google is your friend, use it before posting silliness.

John Tillman
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 24, 2019 3:41 pm


You could get a clue by actually reading what pterosaur experts have discovered. Please study the links I provided.

Birds, including long-winged sea birds, use an entirely different method of take off from pterosaurs. They are bipedal, so laucnh bipedally. They are not a model for quadrupedal take off by flying vertebbrates with enormously large and powerful forelimb muscles. As anyone who has ever eaten a chicken wing knows, bird’s flight muscles aren’t in their wings (arm) bones, but attached to their sterna, ie their breasts.

Bipedalism limits the size of flying birds. Pterosaurs weren’t subject to the same limit, thanks to their different take off method.

Azhdarchids and other pterosaurs’ bone walls were very thin, and they had air sac breathing systems, like those of birds and saurischian dinosaurs. No one knows how much they weighed, but please read what has been found out about their flight capabilities rather than spouting off out of ignorance.

Animal flight simulating software shows that even a 250 kg azhdarchid could have flown in today’s atmosphere. As to how it got airborne, the video provides the answer. It could leap or vault high enough to spread its wings and start flapping.

Witton’s colleague Habib has recently been working with Henderson, the advocate of 500-kilo, hence, non-flying, azhdarchids, toward a compromise, in which the biggest pterosaurs became progressively more terrestrial as they aged.


It’s not just little vampire bats, but medium sized fruit bats which are capable of ground launch. But again, neither avian nor chiropteran anatomy and bioenergetics are good models for pterosaurs.

But IMO, even the giraffe-sized azhdarchids would have been too slow on the ground to survive the largest theropod and croc-relative land predators. And with their meaty forearms, what a tempting morsel they’d have made.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 24, 2019 4:05 pm

Kip, I acknowledged that in my above post.

Being only 3” long and 1.2 oz in weight, the little vampire bat can hop high enough to get sufficient “ground clearance” for flapping its winged (webbed) legs.

I don’t think just flapping their webbed legs perpendicular to their body’s length will get them off the ground. Surely, they have to “reach” upwards and toward the front of their head with their outstretched front legs so that “lift” is created when the legs are pulled backward and down. (kinda like paddling a boat) And if so, then their back legs are also “pulled” upwards and toward the front by the conjoined webbing. Thus, iffen they didn’t “hop” before “flapping”, ….. they would jerk their feet out from underneath them and fall flat on the ground.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 25, 2019 8:03 am

John Tillman – June 24, 2019 at 3:41 pm


You could get a clue by actually reading what pterosaur experts have discovered. Please study the links I provided.

Pterosaur “experts”, …. HUH? ……… “Discovered”, my arse. …… The only thing they are “expert” about, …. like the experts in “climate science”, ….. is their use of computer “modeling” software to obtain the “results” that justify their “junk science” claims, to wit:

excerpted from your linkOne of the world’s leading experts on animal flight, Mike Habib, found that Colin Pennycuick’s freeware Flight programme – software designed to model bird flight – can be easily modified to predict pterosaur gliding and soaring capabilities, even accounting for the differences between feathered and membranous wings (see Witton and Habib 2010 for this methodology). Using this software, Mike and I predicted that giant azhdarchids were supreme soarers, easily able to sustain long-distance gliding even at body masses of 180-250 kg (Witton and Habib 2010). Predicted giant flight velocities exceeded 90 kph and, in that 90 second flapping burst, giant azhdarchids would cover several kilometres – plenty of distance to seek areas of uplift such as deflected winds or thermals.

A critical hypothesis for giant pterosaur flight concerns recent interpretations of their launch strategy. This idea is that pterosaurs – probably all of them – took off from a quadrupedal start, not a bird-like bipedal one. The quad-launch hypothesis has origins in …..

Yup, all sorts of “facts n’ evidence”, …… right John T?

John Tillman – June 24, 2019 at 3:41 pm

Birds, including long-winged sea birds, use an entirely different method of take off from pterosaurs. They are bipedal, so laucnh bipedally. They are not a model for quadrupedal take off by flying vertebbrates with enormously large and powerful forelimb muscles.

Azhdarchids and other pterosaurs’ bone walls were very thin, …..

Brilliant, ….. John Tillman, …… simply BRILLIANT.

Claiming that “flying” pterosaurs had … “enormously large and powerful forelimb muscles” ….. that both ends of said muscles were attached to the long, slender, very thin-walled forelimb bones, …. instead of an “anchor” attachment to a sternum bone, ….. means that said enormously large and powerful forelimb muscles had to expend considerable amount of “energy” just lifting themselves upward at each “flap” of their wings.

And iffen their forelimbs (wings) outweighed their body (torso), ….. then it would have been their body that was “flapping” up n’ down iffen they ever got airborne. And having an extremely large, heavy head/beak and an extremely long, heavy neck, that weighed more than their body, would have assured their “nosedive” into the ground.

excerpt from cited expert: “An extensive record of pterosaur trackways shows that pterosaurs were quadrupedal animals like bats, …..

Shur nuff, ….. and I betcha those “trackways” led straight into/from the shallow waters of their “feeding grounds”.

John Tillman – June 24, 2019 at 3:41 pm

Animal flight simulating software shows that ….

Computer modeling software “will show” results of whatever it is “coded” to show, ……. SISO.

But IMO, even the giraffe-sized azhdarchids would have been too slow on the ground to survive the largest theropod

Tillman, ….. you imagination is going from bad to worse.

“DUH”, many of the herbivore dinosaurs were much, much larger …. and a lot slower …. than the largest theropod dinosaurs ….. and they all survived together until atmospheric CO2 began “dropping-like-a-rock” just prior to 66 mya.

Tillman, quit blowing smoke at me and hoping to win your argument. One has to know how an “entity” works/functions before they can generate useful “computer modeling software” that will mimic how said “entity” functions with slightly different “input” parameters.

John Tillman
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 26, 2019 8:14 pm


The smoke blowing is all yours.

I showed how pterosaurs did it. They weren’t birds or bats.

Their quadripedal gait and take off run, with 110 pounds of forelimb muscles, can be shown to be energetic enough for launch.

All you have is baseless assertions.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 27, 2019 4:34 am

John Tillman – June 26, 2019 at 8:14 pm

I showed how pterosaurs did it. They weren’t birds or bats.

Their quadripedal gait and take off run, with 110 pounds of forelimb muscles, can be shown to be energetic enough for launch.

OK, John, ….. assuming you are correct for a moment, …… please explain to me why those “flying pterosaurs” would quadripedally run/hop down the SAME trackway each and every time they wanted to “take off” for another flight?

excerpt from cited expert: “An extensive record of pterosaur trackways shows that pterosaurs were quadrupedal animals like bats, …..

”HA”, iffen there wasa big flock of pterosaurs on the ground and a pterosaur-eatin-predator got after them, ……. getting “take-off” clearance woulda been a problem, …… right?

John, now there are quite a few NON-FLYING quadrupedal animals that create and consistently use “trackways” to obtain food and water ……. but no known “flying” animal does.

John Tillman, instead of arguing with me by claiming that your “mentors” are …. right as rain, ….. you really need to ask yourself the question, …….. “Why would evolution, via gene mutations, create an animal species with the physical attributes that the pterosaurs had?”

What “survival advantage” did extremely large …. toothed beak, …. head, …… and long neck, …. (that their combined length was greater than its torso), ………with its (torso) extremely long forelimbs and short hindlimbs with their connected “skin flaps” …… afforded the pterosaurs?

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  John Tillman
June 23, 2019 12:56 pm

John Tillman – June 23, 2019 at 11:26 am

Even the largest pterosaurs (Quetzalcoatlus) could take off from level land by pole-vaulting into the air with their powerful forelimbs.

By pole-vaulting, HUH?

And just how HIGH would that dude hafta jump to keep from beating its wings on the ground when attempting to get airborne, ….. given the fact it was 3 m (9.8 ft) high, with a wingspan of 11–12 m (36–39 ft)?

And what about the “pole-vaulting” antics of the giant azhdarchids pterosaurs that is estimated to have been 10 m (32 ft 10 in) in height and a weight of around 200–250 kg (440–550 lb)? HA, those were Boeing class pterosaurs, fer shur.

Tom Kennedy
June 23, 2019 4:52 am

Tennis racquet is very effective.

Reply to  Tom Kennedy
June 23, 2019 2:03 pm

Tom ==> Shotgun, too, I suppose. But unnecessarily harmful. A little compassion is in order for these lost little beasts in your dining room….

June 23, 2019 5:10 am

Atticus Finch is not the narrator of the book. Scout is.

Reply to  Brian
June 23, 2019 2:06 pm

Brian ==> Good literary catch! It should have read “the narrator’s father, Atticus Finch…”

Well done!

Tom in Florida
June 23, 2019 5:49 am

I was exposed to an old bat daily for several years. Then she moved back to New York with the rest of her family, problem solved.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
June 23, 2019 2:07 pm

Tom ==> I hope you are not speaking of your sainted mother that way….

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Kip Hansen
June 24, 2019 10:37 am


Don Bennett
June 23, 2019 6:04 am

As for the PEP shot series, I can attest that it was not fun in the past. While in Vietnam, myself and about a dozen others, were exposed to rabies by an infected puppy. Those of us who’d petted the pup and had scratches on their hands were required to take the 14-day series of shots. There wasn’t enough serum in-country for the entire series for all of us so an emergency shippment had to be sent out from the States.

The shots were administered in one of the quadrants around the navel just under the skin. The shots really started to hurt when they started returning to a quadrant for the second and thrid time. Not fun. From what I read, the current series of shot (3-4) is much easier on the patient.

I grew up in NE Wyoming and rabies in the skunk population was always a worry.

Reply to  Don Bennett
June 23, 2019 2:09 pm

Don Bennett ==> Thanks for the first hand report on the old fashioned rabies shots I remembered from my youth. Sorry you had to go through that, glad you survived to tell the story.

June 23, 2019 6:19 am

We occasionally notice a bat under wedged into the space between the outside chimney and the wood siding. Spraying the area with WD40 not only discourages that practice, but also gets rid of any spiders and wasps which like to do the same thing.

Also had to deal with a flying squirrel inside the house. These guys have steel coil springs for feet and can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Finally caught it in a Havaheart trap. They also carry rabies…

Reply to  Yirgach
June 23, 2019 2:14 pm

Yirgach ==> The CDC mentions various squirrels as possible vectors, but has had no confirmation. They state definitively “Small rodents like squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, and mice) and lagomorphs including rabbits and hares are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have not been known to transmit rabies to humans.”

I love flying squirrels and they often inhabit our attic — where they are noisy and make a mess. Used to wear a flying squirrel tail in my hat-band of my Scoutmaster hat as a “feather”.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
June 24, 2019 12:06 am

Flying squirrels are more a worry for Endemic Typhus, the real typhus not the LA Murine Typhus. Best not to have flying squirrels in the attic:

There used to be flying fox ‘zoos’ here in Queensland and I have fond memories of having large flying foxes hanging onto my hair and holding my fingers. That was before Lassa, Nyssa, and Hendra viruses were understood to be prevalent. Sad that such close encounters with such interesting animals are now verboten.

Bruce Cobb
June 23, 2019 6:31 am

We had a bat in the house some 15 years or so ago, and our house is an open concept one, so chasing it around proved fruitless. It dawned on me that if we could get it into the bedroom, the only room (besides the bathroom) with a door, that would be my best bet at capturing it. After chasing it a while, running downstairs and up, it finally went into the bedroom and I followed it in, armed with gloves and a towel. It would fly around a bit, then land, and I would try to sneak up on it, whereupon it would take off again. It then occurred to me that perhaps I could tire it out, so as soon as it landed, I would be over to it, and it would take off. After about ten minutes of that, it did tire out, landing, and I was able to scoop it into the towel, open the window (closeby), and toss it out. The whole ordeal may have taken 45 minutes. The cats were mightily interested at first, but they gave up after a while.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
June 23, 2019 2:16 pm

Bruce Cobb ==> Thanks for the story — tire ’em out! Sounds like a plan.

June 23, 2019 6:52 am

There is a much easier (and safer for both the bat and you) way to get rid of an indoor bat.

Waving a broom scare, the bat into a room of your house with lots of windows (two people waving brooms works even better) close the door to the room. Then open all the windows (removing any screens). The bat will be gone by morning.

I’ve done it a dozen times. The only time it didn’t work was when the bat somehow got into the basement.

I now live in Houston. You will occasionally see small colonies of bats rising from peoples attics A bridge downtown has 250,000 living underneath it. In the hill country there is a million bat colony in downtown Austin. And subsidiary colonies in many of the bridges throughout central TX. We live with bats around every day without any rabies or panicked dashes to the doctor.

Before I moved back to the US we lived in SE Asia where there are enormous bat fill tree colonies everywhere. Without them the load of disease bearing insects would be unbearable. Walking in the quiet residential streets at night in Jakarta was interesting because there was almost always a bat swooping by your head. And then there were the giant Foxbats….

So chill the American panic. It’s wildly overblown.

June 23, 2019 2:18 pm

William ==> Works great when windows have easily removable screens and you’re not in a hurry.

I have read about the bat colonies under hiway overpasses in Texas. do they make much of a mess?

June 23, 2019 6:53 am

A point that should be emphasized is the importance of immediate treatment if you suspect infection. A friend was bitten by a bat in their house in northern Illinois. She was told that if the shots aren’t started very quickly it is too late and you will likely die. I think the time period is within a week, maybe shorter.

Reply to  OldRetiredGuy
June 23, 2019 2:20 pm

OldRetiredGuy ==> Good firsthand story on an important point.

If you even suspect you might have comein contact with a rabid animal or ANY BAT, seek IMMEDIATE medical attention.

June 23, 2019 6:53 am

‘Bats cannot take flight from the ground’ are we sure about that? I can think of several species which land on the ground – not least the vampire bat.

John Tillman
Reply to  griff
June 23, 2019 1:57 pm
Reply to  Kip Hansen
June 24, 2019 7:29 am

Here is flight information on the two very different animals under discussion.

The biggest pterosaurs, the azhdarchids, were giraffe-sized:

Video of their proposed ground takeoff is included:

I have seen other animations of these astounding creatures that show them simply standing up (using their long folded wings as crutches), beginning to flap as they start walking forward on their short back legs, and sort of flap-gliding away into the sky.
comment image?w=461&h=282&zoom=2

This takeoff is a slow and majestic process, and does not at all resemble the frantic jump and grab for air of the vampire bat. Yes, they weighed hundreds of kilograms — but they also had ten-meter-plus wingspans and lots of surface area.

By comparison, the vampire bat takeoff is trivial and requires no speculation. Note how slow the human hand is in this slowed-down launch:

A second video doesn’t have much takeoff action, but it shows fascinating details I’d not seen elsewhere:

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle (@DeHavelle)

Reply to  griff
June 23, 2019 2:27 pm

griff ==> See the Wiki quote far above — as with all things, there may be exceptions, but I don’t know of any confirmed cases. The most commonly mentioned suspect for the ability to launch into flight from the ground is the common vampire — and while it walks readily on the ground, I can not find any reference that states it can shift into flight without a little bit of altitude.

If you can find a confirmation, post it here for us.

Reply to  griff
June 24, 2019 7:37 pm

It may be true that most microbats spend little time on the ground and would have difficulty achieving takeoff from the ground, but those bats that regularly forage on the ground seem to have no problem. The New Zealand Short-tailed Bat is an example – it spends about 30% of its time foraging on the ground and has no problem bursting into flight as shown near the end of this video:

Pamela Gray
June 23, 2019 7:04 am

I was raised in my grandparents’ foster home which included a huge bat rookery in the massive attic. We had to catch one about every three years to have it tested. Grandma got really good at brooming one into a dazed condition, jar it up, and take it to the health nurse in charge of foster homes for testing.

Many years later when I was running the ranch and living in that same huge house, I woke up early one morning to a flutter feeling next to my ear. When I raised my head off the pillow, a rather young bat had apparently spent the night cozy and warm next to my ear.

That was before I arranged to have the roof redone which included removing the bats, feet thick piles of bat poop, and reroofing from the rafters up, all 3600 square feet of it. After suiting up in haz-mat stuff, I chipped and shoveled the poop out, broomed away any bats still clinging to the rafters, and then covered all louvered vents with two layers of wire mesh stapled down every inch or less.

I kinda felt bad about removing such a massive bat (1000+) rookery but there are plenty of old houses and barns still in the county for them to raise their babies. That said, it still is rather creepy to be able to lay claim that I have slept with a bat.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
June 23, 2019 8:33 am

Plus 100+, Pamela!

You can always hand a few bat rookeries in the trees.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  ATheoK
June 23, 2019 9:53 am

What did the poor bats do before there were humans to provide belfries and mine tunnels? I have often had the thought that by encouraging rookeries in abandoned mines, we might be contributing inadvertently to White Nose Syndrome. If they were forced to be more dispersed, there would be less opportunity to infect others with the fungus.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
June 24, 2019 12:26 pm

A subtlety to this question: The New World population of vampire bats was low —until the arrival of Columbus. The vampire count exploded with the new food source: European cattle and horses.

Now, millions of cattle are “tapped” every year by these bats, and thousands are killed by their rabies.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle (@DeHavelle)

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Pamela Gray
June 23, 2019 9:55 am

Well, at least you didn’t contribute to the legend of vampires.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
June 23, 2019 2:30 pm

Pamela ==> Brave Admission — having slept with a bat.Thanks for the story — my grist mill had bats, but only hundreds….small ones.

June 23, 2019 7:32 am

Your June 22 article titled, “Mad Dogs and Americans,” is better than most recent responses to our CDC’s press release, but it raises serious questions about their reliability. Why focus focus so much attention on one of our rarest mortality threats? On average, just 1.5 Americans per year contract rabies from a bat. By contrast, dog attacks have already killed 20 Americans this year, and easily preventable obesity will kill thousands more. Unfortunately, it’s far easier to point a finger at defenseless bats than at dog owners or fast food manufacturers. Finally, rabies treatment in America is outrageously profitable, and no one is more influential than drug company lobbyists. Since bats almost never bite except in self-defense if handled, those who simply leave them alone have nearly zero odds of contracting any disease from a bat. Where I live in Austin, Texas, we protect 1.5 million bats that roost beneath a mid-city bridge. Though millions of people come to closely observe their spectacular emergences, not one has ever been attacked or contracted a disease from our bats. The bats have made safe and invaluable neighbors, consuming tons of insect pests nightly and attracting 10 million tourist dollars each summer. For a well-documented explanation of why our government focuses so disproportionately on rabies in bats, check out my resource, “Rabies in Perspective.”

Reply to  Merlin Tuttle
June 23, 2019 2:37 pm

Merlin Tuttle ==> The CDC’s point is that people seldom think of bats and rabies in the same sentence.

Geographically, bats are the most common threat — and the least expected.

We have nearly totally eliminated dog-human transmission of rabies in the United States and the few cases we have are almost all caused by bats.

The CDC does not make a big thing out of it — it just releases a notification to the public for their education. Any contact with a wild bat should prompt a visit to a health care professional for evaluation. If one contracts rabies and does not get treatment rapidly, it is almost invariably fatal (and miserably so).

Only the superstitious think that bats attack people. No one advocates mass killings of bats.

The CDC is quite clear in its warning.

June 23, 2019 8:26 am

Bats are relatively thick in central Texas. They show up from time to time in AT&T Center during Spurs basketball games. In 2009, one of their players, Manu Ginobli, swatted one that was flitting around during a game, picked it up and walked it off the court. Had to get rabies shots afterwards. Quick, quick reflexes and hand – eye coordination. He played basketball the same way. Cheers –

Reply to  agimarc
June 23, 2019 2:40 pm

agimarc ==> Great story — and amazingly quick hands to swat a bat out of the air!


NOTE WELL: Having swatted the bat, he had to get rabies shots!

June 23, 2019 8:32 am

Light flexible towels may work for catching virtually anything that flies.

Handling is a different matter entirely.
Sharp teeth or animals that have serious bite strength can be caught by towels or sheets, but handling should be by heavier items.
I like heavy winter coats for larger animals like hawks, possums and raccoons. Leather gloves usually work for bats.

We catch virtually every critter we find in our house and toss them outside with a slight exception for cockroaches and destructive mice. This past month we’ve seen quite a few wolf spiders. I am especially persistent in catching the mothers carrying clutches of small spiders. I prefer they disperse outside rather than inside. Even the copperheads that like to camp near our front door are caught and released elsewhere.
Bats and spiders are worth many times their weight in controlling insects. Snakes are great for controlling rodents and toads

I’ve watched bats and seagulls perform amazing aerial flying in avoiding items; including badminton rackets and nets. The person using them must be quick.

Reply to  ATheoK
June 23, 2019 2:42 pm

ATheoK ==> Thanks for your story. Catch and release is a fine approach for human-animal conflict (as long as it is the humans doing the catching).

Robert of Texas
June 23, 2019 8:52 am

I was once a very active spelunker, and occasionally when in a new cave one ran across a bat, or two, or a few thousands. Usually you just keep as quiet as possible and avoid lights on them and all is well. If you identify an endangered species you either give it a very wide birth or if its in the way, you turn back in order to not disturb it further. Such caves are then recorded and only explored when bats are not roosting.

There was one incident in a large cave with a fairly narrow tunnel-like passge that eventually led to a cavern (we were going to turn into another passage before reaching the cavern)…it was late in the day (you don’t really care in a cave) so I guess the bats were awake and preparing for flight when they heard us- we never saw the colony, just the wall of bats coming down the tunnel. I remember saying something like “I think we need to turn back…” and when I turned, I was already alone – the partner had duck-run down the passage faster than one could believe to a side exit several hundred feet away. I remember standing there a moment watching and feeling the wings of bats all across me – I was afraid to walk for fear of making things worse. I finally hunched down and just waited quietly patiently. Although I could feel their passage, not a single one landed on me.

The reason people are told to avoid bats is because the only ones they are likely to see may be sick ones. They are not naturally aggressive, are delicate, and if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. They are also kind of cute little animals when randomly seen in the wild, but you must be careful not to disturb them if at all possible. They are not meant to be touched, you should not wake them if sleeping (no lights, no flashes, no noise), and if pups are present just go away.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
June 23, 2019 2:45 pm

Robert of Texas ==> Thanks for the caving/bat story and the good advice.

Remember: The CDC says ANY contact with a bat is reason to seek immediate medical attention. — just in case.

June 23, 2019 9:02 am

The video of the gull, who had figured out the door and the crisps, is comical.
But instructive.
If a gull can understand how a recurring mechanism works, then liberals can understand how the climate really works.
Or, are they just too gullible to big promotions?

Reply to  Bob Hoye
June 23, 2019 2:46 pm

Bob Hoye ==> The birds are motivated to learn — maybe not so the liberal/progressives.

Doug B.
Reply to  Kip Hansen
June 23, 2019 8:20 pm

My favorite bat story. Courtesy Barney Fife.

June 23, 2019 9:34 am

In Ontario Canada, the bat is designated an “endangered” species, hence there are regulations as to how to manage bats living close to people. I have learned there are small brown bats and large brown bats as well as several other varieties of bats native to North America. Only the brown bats live in “bat houses” people put up to attract bats. Bats eat a prodigious number of mosquitoes which is good if one has a cottage in the woods.

My encounter with bats living in and around our 45th parallel lakeside isolated cottage has been in summer for 60 years although over the last decade, they have been few and far between. We had hinged shutters on the windows we used to close up the cottage for the winter. In the Spring, after putting in the water line into the Lake, I would open the shutters, latching them to the siding for the summer. Quickly, I would say less than a week, the bats would return to the back side of the shutters which were facing South, bats congregated, enjoying the daytime snooze in the warmth. As evening fell, as a group, they exited in a commotion only to return with first morning light, again, noisily.

Bats are small creatures, they only need 1/4 inch crack to get into a warm space and set up camp. They did so in the cottage rafters. One evening, bats exited into the cottage from a space between the ceiling and fireplace. There was a commotion of our own. 15 to 20 bats were all flying around in a swarm clockwise. Around and around they would go. I opened the front door but they could not “see” the opening. So, I got a broom, crouching low and got the swarm to fly counter-clockwise where they were able to “see” the opening and all left on mass. The “Bat Man” came the next day, caulked the entire outside of the cottage for every little crack and cranny and installed a chimney, ie a one-way valve for the bats who could exit but couldn’t climb back up and into the rafters.

Subsequently, we installed new windows so that there was no need for shutters, and now we only “see” bats flying at night on rare occasions.

As for rabies? there were probably a few hundred people exposed to bats over the lifetime of the cottage, including the dozen or so that one evening of the circular swarm and nobody I know of has died of rabies. I will, however be more careful the next time I check my bat box.

Reply to  RiHo08
June 23, 2019 3:07 pm

RiHo08 ==> You might check with your local health authorities who ought to be able to inform you of the rabies status with bats in your area.

Great bat cabin story and the Bat Man too!

Not Chicken Little
June 23, 2019 9:53 am

So, if you have bats in your belfry, and you are a warmista, do you allow them to remain there, or do you chase them out, only to have them die due to “climate change”?

This is not an idle question – it is a proven fact that most climatistas do indeed have bats in their belfries.

Reply to  Not Chicken Little
June 23, 2019 3:08 pm

Not Chicken Little and Siamiam ==> Great minds think alike….

June 23, 2019 10:31 am

It may be easy to get rid of bats in the house, but what about bats in the belfry?

June 23, 2019 10:48 am

“White Nose Disease” has taken its toll on our local bat population the past 8 years or so, and we are now ‘enjoying’ an explosion of mosquitoes throughout the warmer months… the little blood suckers have always been bad in the UP, but they are noticeably worse now. I’ll take my (remote) chances of encountering a rabid bat (quite rare) versus a summer-long battle against all the disease-carrying swarms of mosquitoes that are so bad they chase us indoors some evenings.

Reply to  JMichna
June 23, 2019 3:12 pm

JMichna ==> White Nose is an ecological disaster — and we can only hope that some of the survivors are immune to it and will raise up a new generation of resistant bats.

I’d rather have bats than mosquitoes any day (or night!) I am highly allergic to something mosquitoes inject when they bite and suffer for weeks from each little bite!

That said, I survived a decade in the Caribbean without contracting any mosquito-borne disease.

john mcguire
June 23, 2019 11:14 am

Are you sure Atticus was the narrator—thought it was Scout

Reply to  john mcguire
June 23, 2019 3:14 pm

john mcguire ==> Love readers with a good literary background. You are right, I mis-wrote “narrator” when I meant to write “father of the narrator”.

Scout was indeed the [narrator] of To Kill a Mockingbird.

June 23, 2019 12:29 pm

rabies shots were anecdotally believed to involve a long series of [reportedly] extremely painful shots in the stomach

Needs an edit (unless you are a fair bit younger than I am, Kip). Nothing “anecdotal” about it. My dad was a veterinarian, and my mother was his assistant when he was still establishing his practice when I was young. They were both bitten by animals that were not provably vaccinated (Dad twice, Mom once, to my knowledge – there may have been more times before I was born, when they were still in Kansas).

Intramuscular shots in the abdomen. Extremely painful, as any intramuscular injection is, and rather large injections, which only made them more painful.

Reply to  Writing Observer
June 23, 2019 3:17 pm

Writing Observer ==> Yes, thank you for the confirmation (one never knows how accurate those stories we heard when young actually are.) Another reader recounted his own personal experience with the old shots in the stomach rabies treatment somewhere above.

We are blessed by this advance in modern medicine.

June 23, 2019 2:06 pm

I grew up in Alaska. As kids we’d stay out practically till dawn in the perpetual twilight of summer. As a young adult I commuted 200+ miles (both ways) for 6 years to work swing shift. Lived and worked from the north slope to the southern tip over more years. Plenty of time up in the evening and night. Plenty of time outdoors. Never saw a single bat, never heard anyone say anything at all about bats.

Except once. As a young teen (in the late 80s) a neighbor wanted to hire me and a friend to clear out his old barn that hadn’t been used for years. The stall parts were fine, but when we went into the tack room there were dead bats everywhere. That’s how I became aware that there were, in fact, bats in Alaska. They were the size of small mice. Dozens, laying everywhere. Didn’t look decomposed or anything, but the room was pretty dark and they might have been desiccated. We looked close but didn’t touch them. We declined the job (in large part because the tack room was too full of big stuff for us to want to deal with) and left.

I very much doubt the mass-death was related to rabies. The owner seemed quite surprised, so I doubt it was poison related either. Anyway, never again saw or heard of bats in Alaska. Kind of odd, really.

Reply to  Banatu
June 23, 2019 3:25 pm

Banatu ==> I suppose the far far north of Alaska may be too cold in the winter where deep caves are not available for the bats to overwinter.

Your tack room bats could have been taken out bhy a real cold snap the previous winter…but that is only speculation. Many bats are quite small — as you say, mouse sized or even smaller.

In Australia the have the fantastically huge flying foxes, witrh wing-spans up to 4 feet (1.2 meters). Hard to believe until you actually see them with your own eyes….hanging in the trees in Sydney’s Botanical Gardens.

Michael S. Kelly, LS BSA, Ret
June 23, 2019 6:04 pm

I have no bat story, but in September of 2016 I received a long, deep scratch on my left forearm from a raccoon (which I was trying to free from having his head stuck in our squirrel feeder). Five days later, I started developing flu-like symptoms. It occurred to me that I might have been exposed to rabies. Long story short, I got the series of shots (almost too late). They are very benign. The vaccine shots are given in the shoulder, one per week for four weeks. The immunoglobulin (antibody) shots are all given up front. I had five, which were only somewhat uncomfortable. The shots do mess up your mind, for months. There are support groups for people who have had them (I found this out long after the fact).

The surprising thing to me was the cost: $17,000.00. That is largely driven by the immunoglobulin, which is derived from human blood taken from people who have had the rabies vaccine (and are thus immune). Should that deter you? Rabies kills about 50,000 people a year world-wide. In the whole history of medical science, there are only 9 cases of people having survived the disease. So it isn’t “usually” fatal. As the PA who saw me at the emergency room put it: “You have to have the rabies series, because if you get rabies, you die.”

Don’t mess around with it.

John D Smith
June 23, 2019 6:15 pm

Wind turbines appear to be reducing the bat population by the multiple 100,00s every year, never mind the number Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles killed every year by wind turbines.

Johann Wundersamer
June 23, 2019 10:50 pm

most peculiar – obviously Kip Hansen doesn’t know how to find out “where do people scuba in Arizona” since

Kip Hansen asks

Kip Hansen ==> “a Dive Store in Arizona” where do people scuba in Arizona? Just curious…. (We do have dive stores in upstate New York, and they often dive in lakes in Pennsylvania)

kindly I response

Dive Store in Arizona Where do people scuba in Arizona (We do have dive stores in upstate New York, and they often dive in lakes in Pennsylvania)

/ fastest QA way /

Warum fragst Du wenn Du die Antwort nicht vertraegst.

Never mind – kannst ja unbeachtet lassen, 1fach nicht abdrucken:

Why do you ask if you can’t cope with the answer.

Never mind – just ignore it, don’t print.

Johann Wundersamer
June 23, 2019 10:57 pm

To print or not to print, that’s Kip Hansen’s question.

Gary Pearse
June 23, 2019 11:10 pm

My bat story is from Nigeria in the 1960s. An English doctor of many talents outside of medicine was an avid climber and I mentioned I had climbed in Switzerland and although I wasn’t greatly experienced, I was fairly strong and reasonably athletic. He said he had been looking for a companion to climb Wase Rock, a volcanic neck (volcano throat fills with lava that hardens and eventually the rest of the volcano is eroded away leaving the “neck”).

comment image

We set off one early morning to climb it and about maybe half way up, the doctor was bitten by a bat as he reached into a crack that he was wedging an expansion device into to attach a karabiner (spring clipped ring for passing ropes through). He killed the bat to take back to have tested for rabies, but when we got back he decided as a precaution to begin the course of vaccine injections in the abdomen.

Meanwhile, he gave me instructions and the instruments for performing a tracheotomy if he reacted allergically to the vaccine. We braced ourselves with good scotch whisky and fortunately didn’t have to deal with the problem! The next morning we learned that the test was negative.

Murphy Slaw
June 24, 2019 7:15 am

In the 70’s we lived in a remote cabin here in BC. One night late my wife awoke with a bat cruising through our open upstairs. She has radar too. It flew from one end of the house to the other, back and forth. The kids all got up to watch the chaos as the tiny “Little Brown Bat” landed in the peak of our roof. My 22 came out and one shot ment we could all go back to bed.

The next morning my littlest one pointed down to the floor and exclaimed “Look Papa, Mickey Mouse ears!” Sure enough, the bullet had nicked off the top of the little guys head, complete with ears!

June 24, 2019 8:36 am

We lived in a house in TX years ago and had 2 cats. I heard some thumping around and strange squeaking in the middle of the night, and they were chasing a bat around. It was lying on the floor when I got to it and I picked it up with a towel and looked it over. It lay there quietly and appeared uninjured – cute little thing. I carried it outside carefully in the towel and put it down somewhere. In the morning it was gone. I hope it was okay!

June 24, 2019 9:28 am


Thanks to all who shared their stories about bats and rabies — some funny, some serious, all informative.

This was meant to be a “filler” piece, an online “newsgbyte”, but seems to have attracted a lot of attention. I sincerely hope that it encourages readers to seek a medical opinion after any close contact with wild bats.

Several readers are interested in the question of how the large flying “dinosaurs” managed to get off the ground — and there was quite a discussioin about it. I know that there was a lot of interest in the topic of how these ancient creatures moved and acted — ref: Jurassic Park. Always surprises me, what folks will want to talk about in the comments section — like a good gathering of interesting people at a party — lots of interesting conversations develop.

Thanks for reading.

# # # # #

Johann Wundersamer
June 25, 2019 2:04 am

Kip, thanks for answering.

Of course we know the problems with Internet search results, e.g. Wikipedia:

That’s why I prefer to present a LIST of research results, avoiding special agents like “Wikipedia”.

When the facts are known / presented everyone is able to find, build “his / her” own “opinion.

Anyway – wuwt is always a valuable, inspiring read.


Richard Briscoe
June 28, 2019 10:29 pm

Atticus Finch is the principal character of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, but not its narrator. That was his daughter, Jean.

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