Bats, Bites & Rabies

Report an animal bite or bat exposure

Animal bites can cause serious injury and infection, including rabies. Rabies is deadly in humans. All animal bites and exposures to bats should be reported to the Washtenaw County Health Department. 

  • Complete this secure online form to report an animal bite or exposure.
  • If you feel you need immediate assistance during normal business hours of 8:30am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday, please call us at 734-544-6700. 

Health care providers should complete the same secure online form to report an animal bite or exposure. As an alternative, an Animal Bite or Exposure Reporting Form (PDF) can be printed and faxed to 734-544-6706.

If you find a bat in your house, please don't let it go until you speak with a member of our staff. We provide case-by-case consultation regarding the need for post-exposure prophylaxis (rabies vaccine). 

Rabies testing

The Health Department coordinates rabies testing for animals. We must approve any animal specimen for rabies testing. There will be a $24 to $40 fee for each approved specimen, and additional fees may apply as well.

Call 734-544-6700 during business hours to speak with someone about testing.

Note: Rabies has not been found in raccoons in Washtenaw County. Raccoon rabies has never been detected in Michigan. If you see a raccoon that appears to be sick or acting strangely, it is likely suffering from distemper. Please call the Humane Society of Huron Valley Wildlife Removal at 734-661-3512. If a raccoon bites you or someone in your household, please complete this secure online form to report the bite or call the Health Department at 734-544-6700.

Help! It's the middle of the night and a bat is in my room!

If you woke up to find a bat in your room, do not let the bat out of the house. 

Remain calm. Do not try to chase the bat. It is too fast and nimble for you to capture at night. If the bat is scared, it could be more likely to bite.

If the bat is actively flying around and seems difficult to capture, it may be best to trap the bat in a room that nobody is using until morning. Bats dislike bright lights, and during daylight they are sleepy and more easily captured.

If you find a bat in your house at night, turn on the lights in all the rooms you want the bat to stay out of, and turn off the lights in one room where you want to capture the bat. The bat will likely fly into the dark room. Once the bat flies into the room, close the door, ensuring there are not people or pets in the room with it. If there is a gap at the bottom of the door, place a towel down to fill the gap so the bat does not escape.

Go to bed and try to get some sleep. The next morning, call animal control to come trap the bat or capture the bat yourself. 

Capturing a bat in your home

If a bat is present in your home and someone has been potentially exposed to the bat, leave the bat alone and contact an animal control agency for assistance. If professional help is unavailable, use precautions to capture the bat safely. 

Bat bites or scratches can be very tiny and are not always noticed. It is critical to have the bat tested for rabies if there is any chance someone may have been exposed.

A bat should be captured for testing when:

  • A bat was in a room with a sleeping person (called an "occult exposure")
  • A bat was in a room with an unattended child or a mentally impaired person
  • A human had contact with a bat
  • A pet had contact with a bat

Most importantly - do NOT let the bat go if someone may have been exposed! A captured bat can be sent for rabies testing. Bats can be submitted dead or alive to be tested. If they are alive, they will be euthanized before testing. The cost for submitting a bat that is alive is $40, and if the bat is already dead, the cost is $24.

A bat that still has its head intact and is not too decomposed can be tested. Follow the steps below for your safety, and to ensure the bat is able to be tested.

What you will need:

  • Leather / heavy work gloves (put them on)
  • Long sleeves
  • Piece of cardboard
  • Box, can, or other container
  • Tape
  • Stepladder tall enough to check the top and back of curtains, light fixtures, etc. if you can't see the bat or it may be hiding

What to do:

  • Watch a helpful video from Seattle-King County Health Department that shows how to capture a bat.
  • Use caution when capturing the bat. Wear heavy gloves. 
  • Take care not to damage the bat’s head while attempting to capture the bat. An intact brain is needed for rabies testing.   
  • When the bat lands, approach it slowly. Place a box, large can, or container over the bat. 
  • Use a piece of cardboard or the container lid and slide it under the container to trap the bat inside.   
  • Tape the container shut. You can punch holes in the lid to allow the bat to breathe. 
  • If the bat is alive, place the container in a cool, dry, quiet area like a closet or a temperature controlled (air conditioned / heated) garage until it can be sent for testing.
  • If the bat is dead, carefully put it in a Ziploc bag and put it on ice, or place it in the refrigerator, a minifridge, a cooler, or a temperature controlled (air conditioned / heated) garage until it can be sent for testing.
  • Please do not put the bat (dead or alive) in the freezer. It is very difficult to thaw the bat properly enough for it to be tested.
  • Complete this secure online form to report the bat exposure.

Only let a bat go if you are absolutely positive that no humans or pets were exposed. For example, you saw the bat fly in an open door, circle the room, and fly out, without landing on or contacting anyone. If the bat had any contact with a human or pet - however minor or brief - do not let the bat go. Trap it and have it tested.

Preventing bats (and other critters) from entering your home

Bats, mice, and other critters can fit through very small cracks, so sealing up gaps and cracks in your home is important. 

Attics are often a favorite space for bats. There may be droppings where the bats have been living, and their entrance hole will likely not be far away.

Before entering an attic, be sure to cover yourself with protective clothing including an N95 mask. Bat or other animal droppings can carry disease, and many types of insulation can be unhealthy for your lungs and skin. Bring a flashlight into the attic. Move around the attic, turning the flashlight off to look for daylight coming in, which is where critters may be entering. 

Bats or mice can also enter a home through the basement or crawl space. Once they get in, they can sometimes climb inside a wall from the basement or crawlspace up to the attic or into the house, so don't ignore gaps or cracks anywhere. Search other parts of your house as well. If you can see daylight through a crack, creatures can likely come inside. 

Many stores sell cans of foam or tubes of caulk intended for sealing up cracks. Read all product labels, and follow instructions for safety and application instructions. It is best to seal small cracks at the inside surfaces of the house, which helps prevent interior humidity from escaping into your building structure and condensing, which feeds mold and mildew. To reach small cracks, tape a disposable drinking straw to the end of the straw that comes with the can of spray foam. Squeeze the drinking straw flat to reach small cracks. Let the foam harden and then scrape off or cut back any excess foam. 

Large gaps in the outside of the house can be covered with metal flashing, which should be tucked under the siding or trim above. This allows water to shed off the house and humidity to escape the structure, while keeping critters out of your home.

Pest contol companies are also available if the issue seems too big to handle on your own, or if these do-it-yourself methods are not effective.

Animals Tested for Rabies in Washtenaw County

*as of 11/1/22. Counts are preliminary and subject to change
Year
Total Animals Tested Total Bats Tested
Total Positive Animals
Animals Positive for Rabies
2006
N/A
N/A
4
Bat (3), Horse (1)
2007
N/A
N/A
11
Bat (11)
2008
N/A
N/A
2
Bat (2)
2009
N/A
N/A
0
N/A
2010
N/A
N/A
2
Bat (2)
2011
137
N/A
6
Bat (3), Skunk (3)
2012
117
N/A
6
Skunk (4), Bat (2)
2013
111
76
3
Bat (3)
2014
101
70
2
Bat (2)
2015
89
65
1
Bat (1)
2016
80
61
2
Skunk (1), Bat (1)
2017
121
84
2
Bat (2)
2018
117
95
6
Bat (6)
2019 134 85 3 Bat (3)
2020 108 83 4 Bat (4)
2021* 118 86 7 Bat (7)
2022* 137 101 4 Bat (4)