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Living with bats

Bats, which include flying foxes, are found across Queensland, with many bat colonies roosting near human populations.

Whilst bats are vitally important to the environment, some bats may carry bacteria and viruses, such as Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV), which can be harmful to humans.

Bats are found in both rural and urban environments and provided they are left alone and not touched, pose minimal risk to humans.

As children, out of curiosity or empathy, may want to investigate or rescue fallen bats, it is important to educate them about how to act safely around bats.

Key messages when talking to children about bats

Don't be scared of bats flying overhead

Bats are often seen flying overhead at night-time. Bats, including flying foxes, are crucial to keeping native forests healthy. They play an important role in the environment by eating insects or dispersing seeds and pollinating flowering plants.

Don't try to touch or pick up bats

Bats roost in trees. If a bat is found on or near the ground, it is probably sick or injured. Disturbing an injured bat may frighten it, causing it to scratch or bite. If you see a bat on or near the ground, do not touch it. Stay away from it and tell an adult.

What to do if you are bitten or scratched by a bat

If you are accidentally bitten or scratched by a bat, tell a responsible adult immediately. Do not scrub the wound. Wash the wound gently but thoroughly with soap and water for at least 5 minutes and contact a doctor or hospital immediately. This is because bats can pass on viruses External Link to you that can make you very sick.

Refer to information for people who have found a sick or injured bat Adobe PDF document External Link for detailed advice regarding what to do if you or someone else has been bitten or scratched by a bat, or has had exposure to bat saliva.

The Department of Health has produced a 'Kids and bats' poster which can be found at Protecting kids from Australian bat lyssavirus External Link. This poster can be used with primary school-aged children to educate them on what to do around bats.

Don't try to hurt bats

Trying to hurt bats may put you or others at risk. If you injure a bat, they may end up on or close to the ground where they may scratch or bite you or other people.

Watch bats from a distance

You can learn about bats by watching them in real life roosting in trees, flying at night or as part of a wildlife show. You can avoid being scratched or bitten as long as you remain a safe distance from them and don't try to handle them. Wildlife carers are trained in handling bats and are vaccinated so they don't get sick from bats.

Key Websites for further information

Department of Health

Information for people who have found a sick or injured bat Adobe PDF document External Link

Australian Bat Lyssavirus External Link

Bats and human health External Link

Protecting kids from Australian bat lyssavirus External Link

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection

Types of Bats External Link

Living near flying foxes External Link

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This page was last reviewed on 09 Oct 2015

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