Bats are amazing creatures that provide a vital role to a healthy ecosystem. They eat thousands of insects, pollinate flowers, and spread seeds that grow new plants and trees. Bats typically eat between 1/3 to 1/2 of their body weight in insects in a single night! A pregnant female can eat 100% of her body weight each night.

However, bats can carry the rabies virus. NEVER handle a bat with bare hands; ALWAYS wear heavy protective gloves.

Humans can become infected with the rabies virus after coming in contact (exposure) with the saliva of an infected animal. Exposure can happen if: 

  • the animal bites you
  • the animal scratches or cuts you
  • you touch the bat and then touch the moist tissues of your eyes, nose or mouth
  • you have an existing open wound or sore, and the bat comes in contact with it

If you have been exposed, or you are unsure, you MUST contact your doctor or municipal public health unit right away. Do not release the bat in case it needs to be tested — keep the bat in a container until you receive further instructions. You can bring the bat to RVWS for care during this time and we will help with any testing required.

How to Capture a Bat

Bats are extremely quick and agile flyers who are difficult to catch in flight. Trying to catch a bat when its flying can result in damage to its delicate wings. Follow the directions below to capture a bat once it has landed on a surface.

  1. Isolate the bat in one room/area.
  2. Prepare a plastic container by poking air holes in the lid.
  3. When the bat lands, put the container over the bat (be sure to wear protective gloves).
  4. Gently and slowly slide the lid underneath and upend the container so the bat is on the bottom. Make sure the lid is secure or taped. Do not provide any food or water.
  5. Keep in a cool, quiet and protected area until you can reach a wildlife rehabilitator. 

Bats Found During Spring, Summer or Fall

You can release a bat outside if you find a bat indoors in the spring, summer or fall. If you find a bat outside on the ground, it might need to be rescued–call RVWS for advice. If you find a bat indoors, follow the instructions below.


  1. Isolate the bat in one room/area.
  2. Open doors and windows to the outside, turn on all outdoor lights and turn off indoor lights. The bat will be attracted to the outdoor lights where insects are often flying and it will fly out of the room.


  1. Follow the instructions above to capture the bat. Keep in a cool, quiet and protected area until dark. Do not provide any food or water.
  2. At dusk, take the bat outside to a tree, open the container and slide the bat onto the tree at least five feet from the ground (bats cannot take off from the ground; they need to swoop to fly). The bat will fly away once it has warmed itself by shivering.
  3. If the bat has not flown away by the next day, it might need to be rescued. Recapture the bat and call RVWS for advice. 

Bats Found During Winter

Bats in the care of the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary—continuing hibernation in the fridge.

Once healthy, bats at RVWS are put back into hibernation in the fridge.

Bats awaken from hibernation frequently, often due to extreme temperature fluctuations. They somehow find their way from an attic or wall into a building. In almost all cases, a bat found awake during the winter will be underweight and dehydrated, and will need treatment at a wildlife rehabilitation centre until it can be released in the spring.

Contain the bat using the instructions above. Do not provide any food or water. Contact RVWS or your closest wildlife rehabilitator for advice and to assess the bat’s condition.