In Practice 32:254-262 doi:10.1136/inp.c2899
  • Clinical Practice
  • Wildlife

Handling and veterinary care of British bats

  1. David Couper

    David Couper graduated from Glasgow in 1996, and worked in mixed practice for four years, before undertaking an MSc in wild animal health at the Royal Veterinary College and the Institute of Zoology in London. He is currently a wildlife veterinary officer at the RSPCA's West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Somerset.


Most wildlife casualties seen in veterinary practice are from common species living in close proximity to humans. Despite recent declines in bat populations, certain species are still relatively abundant in the UK. Many of these bats roost in buildings, increasing their potential exposure to man-made hazards. Their small size and adaptations to flight make them a challenge for the veterinary practitioner. Vets should be aware of the health risks of handling bats, and should have realistic expectations regarding their chances of survival. Practitioners should also be familiar with the legislation pertaining to bats and their roosts. The successful rehabilitation of bats is often time consuming and specialised, and relies on collaborating with local bat groups and those experienced in caring for bats. This article describes the general approach to dealing with bats and outlines the common conditions that might be encountered in these animals.

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