“Experts advise bats may ‘awaken’ occasionally during the winter to move around, or to adjust to changing temperatures. If their spot becomes too warm or too cold, they can find their way out of their hibernation space and into the house,” said Huang.
Huang said there are several steps that should be taken whenever there is a possibility of a person or pet being exposed to a potentially rabid bat:
• The bat should be captured, taking care to avoid damage to its head.
• All “bat-related” incidents should be reported immediately to the health department’s environmental division. The staff will investigate to determine the threat of exposure to people and pets.
• To reach the department weekdays, call 315-349-3564. In an emergency during evenings, weekends or holidays, call the health department’s answering service at 315-341-0086.
• For instructions on how to capture a bat, watch the New York State Department of Health video, "Catch a Bat Safely," https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/ or go to https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/bats/homes.htm.
Two types of bats, the little brown bat and big brown bat, may end up in a house in the winter, but residents are more likely to encounter a big brown bat in their home. Big brown bats typically have an 11- to 13-inch wingspan and a body size of approximately four to five inches. They are more solitary than little brown bats and are more likely to hibernate in an attic, crawl space or wall.
The health department reminds pet owners that all dogs, cats, and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies. Even animals that remain indoors can be exposed to rabies through a bite or scratch from a rabid bat. The health department will announce the 2018 rabies clinic schedule in the spring.
For more information visit www.oswegocounty.com/health/rabies.pdf or https://www.facebook.com/OswegoHealthDpt/