Are bats dangerous? 

All healthy bats try to avoid humans by taking flight and are not purposely aggressive. Most bats are about the size of a mouse and use their small teeth and weak jaws to grind up insects. You should avoid handling bats because several species, such as the hoary and big brown bats, have large teeth that can puncture skin if they are handled improperly.

Less than one percent of the bat population contracts rabies, which is a much lower rate of incidence than other mammals. Still, you should not handle or disturb bats, especially those that are active and appear sick during daylight hours. All bat bites should be washed immediately with soap and water, and a physician should be consulted.

Learn more: USGS North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) 

Related Content

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USGS CoreCast
March 30, 2011

Beyond Billions: Threatened Bats are Worth Billions to Agriculture

Insect-eating bats provide pest-control services that save the U.S. agriculture industry over $3 billion per year, according to a study released today in the journal Science. However, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Pretoria in South Africa, University of Tennessee, and Boston University who contributed to the study warn that these valuable

May 1, 2008

I have bats in my attic, what should I do?

Listen to hear the answer.

A VaTech student is holding a Hoary bat captured in a mist net during the summer of 2017 at Prince William Forest Park in VA.

A Virginia Tech student holding a Hoary bat captured in a mist net.

Hoary bats get their name from their long, dense fur with white tips that give them a frosted or “hoary” appearance.  Hoary bats are a rare treat in researcher’s mist-nets due to their propensity for high altitude flight. In this picture a VaTech student is holding a Hoary batcaptured in a mist net during the summer of 2017 at Prince William Forest Park in eastern VA as a

Attribution: Ecosystems
Image: Endangered Hawaiian Hoary Bat

Endangered Hawaiian Hoary Bat

An endangered Hawaiian hoary bat, a species that is sometimes killed by wind turbines. USGS scientists from Hawaii and Colorado are devising a way to directly observe bat occurrence and behavior at wind turbines using a video system composed of high-powered illuminators and near-infrared cameras.  This new approach images the full rotor-swept areas of wind turbines for