What to do if a bat flies into your house

This bat was caught by a Beacon Valley man in his home on Tuesday May 21.

When a Beacon Valley man heard a strange sound coming from the back room of his house, the last thing he expected was to find a bat.

The man, who did not want to be named, said he found the bat, which he had only ever seen in movies, flying in the room on Tuesday May 21. When it rested on the wall in the upside down position, he caught it with a plastic ice cream container.

“When I saw the bat, I was frightened by it. I then made some holes on the lid of the container. I was shaking, with this entire experience. My mother brought the Doom multi-insect killer for the bat, we were all afraid of this thing. I didn’t know what it was at first, I did not know what to do.”

The man put the bat into a plastic 3-litre water bottle for his 12-year-old son, who took the bat to school to show his teacher on Thursday May 23. His teacher was not there and he showed his friends. His friends told the boy not to put the bat in the sunlight and to feed it fruit.

“I saw the bat was weak when he was inside the bottle. His hair stood up on his body and his arms went stiff, and he died,” said the boy.

Education and training manager, Louise Matschke, from Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET) in Grassy Park, said the dad did the right thing by capturing it in the container but he should have let it go immediately.

“In Cape Town we usually get the Cape Serotine Bat (Neoromicia capensis), they are very small and people often mistake them for baby bats. These bats eat everything humans don’t like such as moths, mosquitoes, beetles and any insect that flies,” she said.

The bat found by the Beacon Valley man could have been flying after an insect. They would pick up on the vibrations of the insects, unaware of where they are flying. “They do not come into the space to harm people,” said Ms Matschke.

Bats are used to flying into human spaces. “If a person encounters a bat, open the doors and windows and let it out on its own. If not, wait until the bat is motionless and either use a container, clothing or a towel to catch it so that you can release it back into the air immediately,” said Ms Matschke.

There is a decline in the bat species, as a lot of their habitats are disappearing. Bats are mammals, one of the only true flying mammals on earth, and they are important role-players in our ecosystems as they keep our aphid (sap-sucking insect) numbers under control.

“Putting any creature inside a box without water, is inhumane. The bat being put inside the plastic container made the bat stressed. The bat could have died of stress, or heart attack, similar to humans,” said Ms Matschke.

If a wild animal is found in your house you can either open doors and windows to see if it moves off on its own or you can call the Cape of Good Hope SPCA Wildlife Department for advice on how to safely get it removed. Call 021 700 4158/9 or 083 326 1604 for after hours emergencies.