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Living with bats

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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. 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 that can make you very sick.

Refer to information for people who have found a sick or injured bat (PDF, 99KB) 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.

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 could 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 keep a safe distance 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 (PDF, 99KB)

Bats and human health​

Australian Bat Lyssavirus

Department of Environment and Science

Bats

Living near flying foxes

Importance of f​lying foxes​​

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Last updated 21 January 2019