Bat Protocol: What Should I Do If a Bat Gets Indoors?

Apr. 3, 2017

Spring is the time of year when normally shy creatures, hungry after the long winter, range out in search of food. 

This is why spring is the most likely time for unwanted house calls from bats. If you discover a bat in your living space on campus, the University recommends the following actions. 
  • Avoid direct contact with the bat and call the Public Safety non-emergency number at 609-258-1000.
  • Do not try to capture or kill the bat.
  • Do not release a bat found in a building until it has been confirmed through Public Safety that no exposure has occurred.

Bites and Scratches 

The major concern with bats is the chance for an exposure to occur through a bite or scratch. Animal bites can result in infections, including tetanus and rabies. 

Direct exposure to a bat is defined by the University as: 

  • Awakening to find a bat in the room.
  • Witnessing a bat in the room with a previously unattended small child, mentally disabled or intoxicated person.
  • A bite (any penetration of the skin by teeth), or saliva or brain/spinal cord tissue introduced into mucous membranes (eyes, mouth), an open wound, abrasion or scratch in the skin from a bat

If you have been bitten or scratched by a bat or have been exposed in any manner described above, call the Public Safety emergency line immediately at 609-258-3333.

In the event of human exposure, Princeton University EHS makes every effort to capture and test the bat to avoid the necessity of prophylactic measures.  

First Aid

If bitten or scratched by a wild animal, immediately wash the affected area with copious quantities of soap and water. If eyes or mucous membranes are exposed, irrigate the area for at least 15 minutes at a sink or, if available, an eyewash station.

If an injury is life-threatening or you need transport assistance, call 911 from a University phone or 609-258-3333 from a cell phone.

  • Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seek treatment at University Health Services. Ask a friend or co-worker to call ahead (609-258-5035).
  • Evenings and weekends, contact the Department of Public Safety and request transport to the Emergency Room at University Medical Center Princeton Plainsboro.

Princeton University employees or lab workers should report all exposures to your immediate supervisor or Principal Investigator. Principal Investigators are responsible for reporting exposure incidents to EHS Biosafety, who will perform a follow-up investigation of the incident.