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DHEC Supports ‘Bat Week’ and Promotes Understanding the Important Role of Bats in South Carolina’s Environment


COLUMBIA, S.C. ― During Bat Week, recognized from Oct. 24-31, 2021, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) supports increasing public awareness and education about bats and the important role they play in nature.

Members of the South Carolina Bat Working Group, including the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), have compiled a list of events being held this week. Information will be shared at these events and at “bat chats” about bats in general and the 14 different species that live in our state. Bats provide incredible nuisance control by eating their body weight in insects in a single night, and they also are key pollinators and help disperse seeds. Bats are very valuable animals in our state and deserve our respect and protection.

“We support DNR and the Bat Working Group’s efforts to spread awareness and education about bats, who, unfortunately, have a generally bad reputation,” said Terri McCollister, DHEC’s Rabies Program Team Leader. “While bats are one of the more recognizable rabies vector species that can carry and transmit the rabies virus, not every bat is infected with rabies. Bats are an important part of South Carolina's ecosystems. They deserve a healthy degree of respect just like all wild animals.”

Raccoons, foxes, skunks, feral dogs and cats, and bats can spread rabies to people and pets. It’s not always possible, however, to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bat because their teeth are small and bites may go unnoticed. It should be assumed a person or pet has been potentially bitten by a bat when:

  • they wake up to find a bat in a room or tent;
  • a bat is found where children, pets, or people with impaired mental capacity (intoxicated or mentally disabled) have been left unattended; or
  • they have been in direct contact with a bat.

DHEC advises that bats involved with potential exposures should not be handled or allowed to escape an enclosed area. Once a bat is released, it can’t be tested for rabies, which makes it difficult to know whether a potentially bitten person or pet has been exposed to the rabies virus. Contact a wildlife control operator or visit the DHEC Bat Webpage to learn how to safely capture a bat so it can be tested for rabies.

“You can't tell if a bat or any other animal has rabies by simply looking at it. Rabies has to be confirmed in a laboratory,” said McCollister. “As with any wild animal, give bats their space and call a professional wildlife control operator if bats are found inside your home or in the crevices of your eaves or roof, or in other small openings of your home. A wildlife control operator can safely remove the bats without causing harm to you or them.”

If you believe a person or animal has come in contact with a bat or another animal that potentially has rabies, please call your local DHEC Environmental Affairs office.

For more information about bats and Bat Week information, visit To learn more about bats and other wild animals that can transmit rabies, visit or