By Patch Editor Leslie Yager
Patch recently ran a weekend feature about bats carrying rabies and quoted various health department officials' advice about what to do if you come into contact with one of these flying furry creatures inside your home.
The advice — trap and catch the bat, seal it inside a plastic bag and bring it to your local health department to be tested — can mean the difference between enduring a grueling round of rabies shots and getting a free pass.
Yet some of our readers intimated in the comments section that Patch was making readers unnecessarily fearful, and possibly demonizing these creatures who do a world of good despite occasionally, albeit rarely, transmitting rabies to humans.
So this week Patch wanted to share some of the good news about bats.
"Friends of the Farm"
Beth Dingee, at Blue Jay Orchards just over the Connecticut line in Bethel, is a big fan of bats. “We have bats in all our barns and outbuildings,” Dingee told Patch. “They’re considered friends of the farm.”
Bats are also part of an education program that has blossomed at the orchard. Visiting school groups learn the value of bats, as well as foxes and ladybugs, in combating pests that can be detrimental to crops.
Here are some fun facts about bats:
Bats eat bugs and keep the insect population down.
A single small brown bat can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour.
Bats eat bugs that hurt farmers' fruits and vegetables, thereby reducing the amount of bug spray necessary.
Bats drop seeds and spread pollen from tree to tree.
Not far away, in Monroe, Patch shared advice on preventing bats from getting inside a home. Here is an excerpt from that article, reported by Bill Bittar:
When a single bat enters a home, the DEEP says it can be removed easily. Closing off doorways to a room — containing the bat — and opening a window will usually prompt the bat to fly outside.
The DEEP also suggests using a large jar to capture a bat. Approach it slowly so it won't be startled, gently place the jar over it and slide stiff paper or cardboard under the jar's opening.
Wear heavy leather gloves to protect your hands from a bite. If you are bitten, make sure the bat is saved for examination, immediately wash the wound with soap and water and seek proper medical advice, according to the DEEP.
Rabies can be transmitted through saliva or a bite.