A 6 year old child died from contact with a rabid bat. According to the news, the boy was awake and put his hand on the bat. He wasn’t taken to the hospital for prophylactic rabies shots. Ultimately, that decision seemed to have cost the child his life.
How acidic is bat urine? You may think this is a strange question because the answer is obvious, but the fact is it isn’t as obvious as one may think. For instance, one research article on bats in Oklahoma (Shackelford, Jenni, and William Caire. “Variation in pH, volume, osmolality, and sodium and calcium levels of the urine of hibernating myotis velifer from western oklahoma.” The Southwestern Naturalist 38.2 (1993): 159-163.) found that bat urine was only slightly acidic.
Research in the UK agrees finding that bat urine is only mildly acidic with a pH of 5.5 (see http://www.ai-journal.com/articles/10.5334/ai.1703/print/). Now you may read this and say well, we told you bat urine was acidic. But the authors of the UK research said that testing bottled water also revealed that pH levels ranged from 4.2-8.7.
Bottom line, bat urine is acidic but it doesn’t damage items with the speed that one may think. Of course, long-term exposure to bat urine is problematic, particularly for calciferous stone like limestone. So be sure not to over-state the material damaging properties of bat urine.
Rutgers & Bat Standards
The National Wildlife Control Operators Association (NWCOA) has been invited to Rutgers University of New Jersey to present the Bat Standards Compliant training. This one-day training is designed to help participants understand the fundamentals of ethical bat inspections, proper exclusion standards, zoonotic diseases (histoplasmosis and rabies), and how to clean bat control equipment to prevent the spread of White-nose Syndrome.
The training will provided through Rutgers University Office of Continuing Professional Education. Training will occur on March 30, 2016 between 9:00 AM-4:00 PM. Those interested in learning more or to register for the training event can visit http://www.cpe.rutgers.edu/bats/
Bat Management Standards
Regrettably, too many states lack suitable regulation or licensing requirements for wildlife control operators (WCO). The result of this abdication of governmental oversight is a kind of wild west of
activities and techniques used by individuals in the business of performing vertebrate pest control. Certainly, regulations and licensing doesn’t guarantee quality workmanship on the part of professionals, the pest control industry demonstrates that, but we do know that regulation would certainly help stem the tide of sloppy WCO work.
The White-nose Syndrome Conservation and Recovery Working Group (4/1/2015) has published Acceptable Management Practices for Bat Control Activities in Structures – A Guide for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators. This stimulus for this guide was driven by the staggering losses to bat populations caused by the fungal infection known as White-nose Syndrome. With such losses, it is critical that WCO activity avoid killing bats unnecessarily as well as spreading the disease.
Wildlife Control Consultant,LLC. commends the working group for working with the National Wildlife Control Operators Association (NWCOA) to develop these bat management standards. WCC, LLC hopes that states will adopt these guidelines as their own. Note that Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC is a member of NWCOA.
Stephen M. Vantassel specializes in vertebrate pest control.
Bats, Sound, & Rabies
Research by Denny Constantine (d. 2014) found that there is a relationship between bats, sound, & rabies. In other words, Constantine believed that rabid bats are attracted to noise.
He found that rabid bats appeared to attack humans that were associated with or emitting loud noise. In one study, Constantine used harp traps. Some were set with noise makers and others were silent. The noisy traps caught rabid bats while the silent one’s did not.
The attraction of rabid bats to noise may explain why people who were sleeping in rooms with bats contracted rabies. Perhaps the individuals were snoring or were making noise through their breathing.
Ultimately, more research is needed. But if Constantine’s findings prove out, a trap methodology could be developed to capture bats that are sick and thereby protect other bats and wildlife species from contracting rabies. (Source Combating the Rage by David A. Jessup. The Wildlife Professional Fall 2014: 8:3:38-42.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. He has written the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Reach him at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.