Signs a bat is sick

Like all animals, bats can contract a wide range of different illnesses, and one of the most commonly associated ailments is rabies. Rabies can be caught by humans and can be deadly to pets, so it is important to know if a bat has this or any other illness, so you can endeavor to help it, but more importantly, protect yourself. Here are some tell-tale signs that a bat is not feeling well:

Irregular flight times and patterns

Bats are nocturnal animals, most active during dawn and dusk. They fly much the same way as birds and can be often seen in the sky in the evenings. However, if a bat is rabid, or has another illness, it may not stick to these patterns as rigidly. After all, rabies affects the brain, so bats are less able to make sensible decisions. This may mean you start to find bats flying at any time, including during the day. 

bat laying down

Not only this, they may start to fly less in their fluid motions that you are used to and more in an erratic fashion. This may involve temporary loss of flight or collision with objects as a result of a lapse in echolocation

Odd levels of docility

Bats are rather aggressive mammals, as they are small and carnivorous, and want to defend themselves. These feelings are not withheld towards humans, either, meaning it is not uncommon for a bat to act aggressively towards you if it feels trapped and threatened. However, docility is a common symptom of a sick bat, meaning the bat seems unafraid, or uninterested in humans. This means they are much less likely to fly away when startled as if they have accepted their fate. This lack of a fight or flight reaction is very noticeable.

bat asleep


A rather disturbing symptom of a bat illness, especially rabies, is the fact that they may turn to self- mutilation, the process of harming themselves. This is often not a pleasant sight and truly shows that the bat’s brain has been damaged, perhaps beyond repair. This process often happens in plain sight and on the ground, as the bat has lost its sense of danger. Therefore, even if the self-mutilation does not kill the poor bat, it will likely be predated or run over.

White fungal growth

As a result of their nocturnal nature, and an evolutionary desire to blend in, bats are all very darkly colored, often black. Therefore, when you begin to see white specks or patches on their bodies, it is clear that something is wrong. This is usually caused by a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome, where the white patches are literally fungal growths on the skin. This disease is deadly for bats, but these patches are the only visible symptoms of something being amiss. Thankfully, researchers are pretty certain that this disease cannot be contracted by humans, but they are less sure about other animals. Therefore, keep your pets away from infected bats.