Finding a grounded or lost bat is a unique experience. For many people, it will be the first time they come close to one of these fascinating and unappreciated creatures. And knowing you've helped a bat survive is a feeling like no other!
BCT unfortunately don't have the resources to run a bat rescue service – but don't worry. You can help the bat by following a few simple steps, and the National Bat Helpline may be able to point you toward experienced independent volunteers in your area who can take over from there. If not, you can take the bat to your nearest veterinary practice, and we will advise and support them.
Although bats are protected by law, you're allowed to handle a bat in trouble in order to assist it. There is a small risk of rabies transmission from bat bites and scratches in the UK, but you can protect yourself by using our special containment procedure and wearing gloves.
Rescuing a bat, step by step
- Assess the situation (this page)
- Contain the bat in a box
- Call the National Bat Helpline, or take the bat to a vet
Does the bat need help?
A bat needs help if:
- It's on the ground or floor
- It's exposed during the day (e.g., on an external wall)
- It's in the living area of a dwelling, or the public area of another building
- It's been in contact with a cat
- It's a pup without its mother (see below)
- It's stuck to something (like flypaper, barbed wire or a fishing hook)
- Its roosting place has been disturbed – for example, by removing wood from a woodpile, taking a sign from a wall, or building work. If a bat has been found during building work, there are some additional things you'll need to do to ensure that the roost is retained and the law is not broken. Please see this page for further advice.
However, a bat seen in a loft, basement or outbuilding, or wedged into a crevice, may simply be roosting there. Please call the National Bat Helpline so we can help you evaluate the situation.
How do I tell the difference between a pup and an adult bat?
All UK bats are small and you may be surprised at the size of an adult. Baby bats are found in June, July or early August. At all other times of the year, the bats you see will be fully-grown and independent. Baby bats have little or no fur.
Should I let the bat go?
Please don't release a bat without further advice. A bat that isn't fit for release, or that is released in unsuitable conditions, is unlikely to survive.
Once you've determined the bat needs help, it's time to put some gloves on and contain it.