In early stages of the disease, animals behave abnormally. They may lose their natural wariness of people, show up in places they don't usually frequent or become active at odd times of day. Bats are normally active at night. Seeing a bat during the day could be a sign that something is wrong, but doesn't necessarily mean it has rabies. A bat seen during the day may be injured. In this case, it may need rehabilitation (by a licensed rehabilitator
). Also, bats seen during the day may have just been excluded from their roost by people or they may be juveniles.
Many bats roost in roofs, attics and sheds, without people knowing the bats are there. When people remodel, for example, a roost may be discovered and the bats might then be excluded. There are certain times of the year when it is better to exclude bats. If you need information on excluding bats from your home, call your Parks and Wildlife office. An excluded bat might find a temporary roost site. But the site might be visible to people who may assume the bat is sick. If left undisturbed, the bat will leave in the evening to find a more suitable roost site.
Juvenile bats may also temporarily roost in a visible place. These bats are learning to fly, to eat on their own, to find drinking sources, and to find a roost site. As with many young animals starting out on their own, some juvenile bats die during this period. A bat that is seen during the day does not automatically mean that it has rabies, but be cautious. It might have the disease or it might be injured. The bat may have also been recently excluded from it's roost or it may be a lost juvenile.
Bats roost in trees, mines, caves and attics, or under rocks, roofs and siding. If you see one in an unusual place, such as on the side of a building or on the ground, beware. Bats also have remarkably accurate control of their flight, so another red flag is a bat that can't fly and repeatedly crashes into things. A good rule of thumb is anytime you see a bat acting abnormally, the chances are it is sick. Bats that have contact with people, that children find or pets capture are usually sick or injured and pose a greater risk of being rabid.
As the disease progresses, animals lose muscle control and coordination, stop eating and drinking and show signs of paralysis. According to BCI, "Rabies is often referred to as hydrophobia because victims fear swallowing. Drinking or eating can bring on muscle spasms of the throat. The fear of swallowing also accounts for saliva accumulation referred to as 'foaming' at the mouth. Infected animals may be either agitated and aggressive or paralyzed and passive. Dogs, cats, and other carnivores often become aggressive and try to attack humans and other animals, but bats are typically passive. Bats normally bite only in self-defense if handled, and aggressive behavior is rare, even when rabid."
"Early symptoms in humans include pain, burning, and numbness at the site of infection. Victims complain of headaches, inability to sleep, irritability, muscle spasms of the throat and difficulty swallowing. Convulsions may occur, followed by unconsciousness and death."
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