LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- They come out at night just after dusk feeding on bugs that fly through the air. So, when people see bats active during daytime hours, there's cause for concern. State officials say this is a rare but dangerous problem.
Bats are the leading carrier of rabies in Arkansas, says Marilyn Hall, with North Little Rock Animal Control. She says, "If you see a bat out, especially during the daytime? You need to call animal control! And we will come out and get it. We've had 11 cases of bats testing positive in North Little Rock in the last 10 years."
Eleven in one decade may not sound like many, but a look at the symptoms show that even one case is too many.
Hall says the nine person staff at North Little Rock Animal Control responds to calls of bats, skunks, and raccoons but their work isn't complete after that. Hall says, "We have to send them to have them tested because we don't know!"
Once captured, these professionals take the critter in question in a bucket to the state health department for testing. Hall says luckily rabid bats are not as common as one may think; nor does one automatically mean the others are dangerous, too. Hall adds. "It's not a great threat to people. It's not a colony of bats that are swarming around biting people. This is probably a solitary bat."
The rabies virus may seem more rampant during warmer months but only because the carriers are more active then. It does not go dormant in winter but less wild animal activity can make anyone let their guard down.
But that's not a good idea and pet owners have no choice. Hall says, "Your dogs and cats have to be vaccinated by a licensed vet every year. That is a state law!"
So far this year, the health department has reported 108 cases of rabies in everything from bats to dogs to skunks to cows. Hall says, "If you see an animal, that you think is sick, if you see a raccoon that's acting strange or a skunk or bat call animal control just to be on the safe side. And let us send it off to be tested."
Click here for a map of rabies reports in Arkansas.