Anyone who handles bats regularly should be vaccinated against rabies. UK Bat Care Network members are required to submit proof of an up-to-date jab before the National Bat Helpline will refer calls to them.
If your work with bats is strictly voluntary and you are based in the UK, then you should be eligible for free rabies vaccinations. The documents you'll need are below:
- Free vaccinations for bat workers advice letter for all parts of the UK. Please show this to staff at your doctor's surgery when booking your appointment.
- Proof of vaccination document (England)
- Proof of vaccination document (Wales)
- Proof of vaccination document (Scotland)
- Proof of vaccination document (Northern Ireland)
If you have queries about your rabies vaccination, please email Lisa Worledge.
Even if you're fully vaccinated, you should wear gloves at all times when handling bats. BCT's guide Wearing Gloves When Handling Bats gives more information.
BCT's Good Practice Guidelines on Bats and Rabies are essential reading for all batworkers on how to manage risk and respond to potential exposure. A supplement written especially for bat carers focuses on how to deal with bats suspected to have the disease.
We encourage any rehabilitators who have bats die in their care to submit them to the Animal and Plant Health Agency for rabies testing. Click here to request a testing kit.
Written especially for rehabilitators, BCT's COVID-19 Good Practice Guidelines explain how to minimise risk to yourself, the public and bats.
As of January 2021, all coronavirus restrictions in force in the UK, including the full lockdown in England and most of Scotland, allowed people to leave their homes for voluntary work or to attend to urgent animal welfare needs. We therefore believe that bat carers should be able to carry on with their activities, and that people who find bats should be able to deliver them to carers. However, we urge you to take all the precautions described in our guidelines and arrange contactless delivery and/or collection of bats whenever possible. You should also consider whether giving remote advice to the finder would be more appropriate. Each person's circumstances should be taken into account, including whether they are vulnerable or shielding.
Current guidance says that police should not ask people for proof of why they have left their homes, and so we are not currently providing Bat Care Network members with documentation. We are keeping a close eye on the situation and will be in touch if anything changes. You can read about the latest guidance and restrictions in your area on the Government's website.
Allergies are relatively common among people who handle mealworms regularly. Since mealworms are the main food for bats in captivity, it's important that you know how to protect yourself and recognise the symptoms of allergies. BCT's document Mealworm Allergy Information for Bat Carers provides further information. If you're a UK Bat Care Network member and you develop a mealworm allergy, please let the Bat Care Co-Ordinator know as soon as possible.
Bat Care Bulletin articles
The Bat Care Bulletin blog has a number of useful articles under the category Human Health. You can also use the index at the bottom of the blog to find specific topics you're interested in. All posts are initially password-protected and accessible to UK Bat Care Network members only, but most are eventually made public. If you’re not a UK Bat Care Network member and find these articles helpful, please support BCT’s bat care work by making a donation.
If you volunteer with a Network-registered regional helpline or wildlife hospital, please ask your co-ordinator for the blog password. If you’re a Network member under your own name but have lost your password, please contact the Bat Care Network Co-Ordinator on email@example.com.