Be aware of bats

I strongly encourage all residents to inspect the area around their air conditioning units. It is important that the gaps around air conditioners are sealed properly with foam or fabric to keep bats out. If a bat is found in your house, and there is a possibility that it had direct contact with a human or pet, then the bat will need to be captured and tested.
— A. K. Vaidian, MD, MPH, Commissioner

During this time of year, young bats are beginning to emerge, increasing the bat population locally. The Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health is urging residents to be vigilant to keep these bats from entering their home this time of year.

While bats are not aggressive, they do carry disease like rabies. According to the health department’s commissioner, Dr. A. K. Vaidian, removing window air conditioning units during this time of year can invite bats indoors, as they can squeeze into the small gaps between the window sashes.

Here are some tips from the health department to prevent bats from entering your home:

  • When a window is opened to install an air conditioner, it creates a gap between the upper and lower window sashes. Also check that no gaps exist on the sides and bottom of the unit. Bats may gain entry to your house through these gaps. Check to make sure the upper window sash stays in place. Brace it up if needed.

  • Be sure open windows have tight-fitting and intact screens. Ensure entry doors have a self-closing screen door.

  • When placing a fan in a window, be sure the screen remains in place.

  • Keep garage doors and other doors closed when not in use.

  • Make sure chimney dampers are closed. Seal all unused openings from the house into the chimney.

  • Be sure access points to non-habitable spaces such as attics, basements, and crawlspaces are kept closed with tight-fitting doors.

If a bat does manage to enter your home, and if there is a chance it came into contact with a human or pet, it will need to be captured and sent to a lab for testing. If you are capable of capturing it yourself, confine the bat to one room by closing all windows and doors, turn on the lights, and wait for the bat to land. Wearing gloves, approach the bat slowly, cover the bat with a coffee can or similar container and slide a piece of cardboard or lid under the can trapping the bat. Tape the cardboard or lid to the container.

To make arrangements to have the bat tested for rabies, call Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health at (845) 486-3404. If it is after normal business hours, on the weekend, or a holiday, call the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health answering service at (845) 431-6465.

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Click for a PDF about the different kind of bats in New York State

Click for a PDF about the different kind of bats in New York State