Fonticulus Fides

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Please pray for my possibly rabid in-laws...

Okay, I really shouldn't joke about this. My in-laws, whom I love dearly, awoke to a bat in their room the other night. Groggy with sleep, my father-in-law made the heroic but poor choice to save his wife by waving his t-shirt at the air to scare the bat out of the room. This made the bat fly lower and lower (to get away from the t-shirt), and my father-in-law ended up battling it and killing it, but not before getting bit on the hand.

The corpse has been sent in for testing, as 10% of bats prove to be rabid. However, my in-laws' physician has recommended them to start rabies shots anyway. Yes, both of them. Bats can leave small bites that aren't felt by a sleeping person.

They are miserable at the prospects of getting these notoriously painful shots. And their pocketbooks are groaning as well, since the shot series costs something like $2,800 per person. Hopefully, the bat will test negative for rabies and they won't have to complete the entire series, but still.

By the way, if you ever awaken to a bat in your bedroom, or if you come across a bat in your home, here's the protocol.

1. Don't swing anything at the bat, because it will scare the animal into flying at a lower altitude. Not a pillow, not a net, not a bat, not your t-shirt, not anything.

2. Quickly close off the windows, closets and doors, exiting the room. Stuff the crack under the door with a towel so the bat can't get out.

3. Immediately call animal control to have somebody fetch the bat. Where I live, they'll come out even if the office is official closed because of the potential for rabies.

4. If you or anybody else was asleep in the room, there is a chance the bat bit, so the bat MUST be tested for rabies. The duration of time this takes varies -- here in Lincoln, the bats have to be sent to Kansas City, so it can take up to a week, maybe even two. Your physician, like my in-laws', may recommend beginning the shots prior to receiving the test results if it's a long wait, but better safe than sorry.

5. If you can't get anybody to come out quickly enough and you feel brave, you can more than likely catch the bat yourself. But only if you don heavy leather gloves, as bats cannot bite through those. No, your Isotoners don't count. You'll also need a plastic container with a secure lid, or a coffee can or something like that. Here's what you do. Put on your gloves, grab your container, and slip carefully, quietly and quickly into the room. Close the door securely behind you. Remain motionless and watch the bat. Bats usually fly in the exact same circular pattern around the room. Just watch it for a minute. If nothing disturbs the bat, it will fly slower and slower. Eventually, when you are confident and the bat is flying slowly enough, you can simply reach up and catch its body as it flies past you. Slip it into the container and secure the lid. Take the container outside and weight down the lid with a heavy object so the bat can't get out. Be sure to turn it into authorities, rather than catching-and-releasing. Or at least ask the authorities what you should do with it. Please do NOT attempt this unless you are the brave sort. It's not something you want to mess around with, or you'll wind up like my father-in-law with a bite on the hand.

Meanwhile, please pray for them!



  • Will do, Sparki.

    Scary story! I hope your FIL is fine and that the bat tests negative. I have been surprised by the number of stories of rabid animals around here, not exactly a rural area, so bat knowhow is not as unneeded as I might have thought. Though I even recall seeing bats on a couple of occasions in Brooklyn (both on July 4 oddly enough, 12 or 14 years apart.)

    By Anonymous pseudonymous amelia, at 4:24 PM  

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