Approved euthanasia methods for bats (Microchiroptera)

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Detailed Description

This video shows the proper procedure for performing cervical dislocation on a bat with clinical signs of white-nose syndrome to be submitted to a diagnostic laboratory for evaluation. White-nose syndrome (WNS) ( is a highly fatal disease affecting multiple species of North American bats that is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans. The procedure is demonstrated on a bat carcass in the video but one would use the same technique on a live, anesthetized bat in the field. This procedure is intended to be performed by an authorized wildlife professional only. It may be unlawful to take wildlife without the proper permits and one should consult their state natural resources agency for further guidance. Bats may carry rabies and should never be directly handled without appropriate safety precautions. Warning: This video shows a procedure for performing euthanasia on bats which may be disturbing to some viewers.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:04:02

Location Taken: Madison, WI, US

Video Credits

Filming and narration by S. Grange. Technique demonstrated by A. Ballmann. Video editing by S. Grange and A. Ward. Audio description by A. Ward.


When safe to do so, a gas anesthesia Isoflurane overdose, followed by cervical dislocation, is the recommended field procedure for euthanasia. The secondary physical measure ensures death.


Do not carry a bottle of isoflurane underground or in any other small enclosed spaces. Also, only use isoflurane under the direction of a licensed veterinarian.


There are two different apparatuses you can use for euthanasia chambers. A conical tube with a cotton ball in the bottom, or a metal diffuser with a cotton ball inside, inside a plastic bag. Pre-charge the euthanasia chamber cotton ball with 2ml of isoflurane before entering the site. Store in a cooler to keep the anesthesia-soaked cotton ball from vaporizing. However, gas anesthesia works better warm, so warm up with your body heat when ready for use by placing the chamber in your pocket or under your arm pit.


Ensure that there is no free-standing liquid in the chamber prior to adding the bat. Insert the bat head first into the euthanasia chamber and do not allow the bat to come into contact with the anesthesia-soaked cotton ball. This will cause unnecessary discomfort.


Once the bat is anesthetized or no longer breathing, remove the bat from the chamber in a well-ventilated area to perform cervical dislocation and ensure death.


With the bat in dorsal recumbency, position the thumb and index finger of one hand on either side of the base of the bat’s skull. With the second hand, grab the base of the tail where it joins the body. With a firm fluid motion, pull the hands in opposite directions while pinching the thumb and forefinger together at the base of the skull to sever the spinal cord. Check to ensure that the spinal cord is severed by feeling for a complete separation of the head from the spine.