DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s Bat Week, an international celebration that raises awareness for bat conservation.
Bats are a classic symbol of Halloween and around this time of year, there are plenty of people who might be feeling a little scared of them. Especially if you spot one in your home.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says there’s no reason to be afraid. Nine species of bats call Iowa home. They like dark, temperature-stable environments like attics, and can squeeze themselves into small holes so it’s not uncommon to find one inside.
“So, if you find a bat in your home, the best plan is to just close off all the interior doors of the room, open all the exterior doors of the room and the bat will eventually find its way out. And if you absolutely have to handle the bat, wear thick leather gloves when doing so,” said Stephanie Shepherd, Wildlife Diversity Biologist with the Iowa DNR.
The DNR says while it’s extremely rare, bats can carry rabies. If you get bitten by a bat, make sure to get medical attention. Rabies is spread through saliva or contact with the central nervous system – not contact with blood, urine, or bat droppings.
Bats are beneficial to Iowa’s agriculture industry. The DNR says it is estimated that $1 billion in free pest control is provided by bats that eat moths and beetles which can cause damage to Iowa’s corn crop.
You can help support bat conservation by keeping woodlands on your property, letting dead trees stand, and clearing out any invasive plant species.
For more information, the DNR recommends checking out Bat Conservation International at batcon.org.