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Do Bats Make Great Pets? What You Need to Know!

Oliver Jones

You might be surprised to learn about how many people write to us to ask if bats make good pets. If you are considering purchasing a bat to keep as a pet in your home and are wondering if it’s possible, the basic answer is no. It’s not a good idea from a legal standpoint, nor is it in the best interest of the bat’s health—or yours. Keep reading while we look at the legal issues, health risks, and other factors to determine if a bat will make a good pet.leaves divider leaf

Is It Legal To Own a Bat?

bat hanging on tree
Image Credit: Dorothée QUENNESSON, Pixabay

It is illegal to keep a native bat as a pet in America. Even though there are more than 40 breeds of bats in America, many have legal protection due to low numbers. If your attic were to become a bat’s nest, you would have difficulty removing them since there are laws in place preventing an exterminator or anyone else from interfering with them. The only people that can legally own bats in America are research facilities, wildlife sanctuaries, and zoos. Even these establishments must apply for and purchase a license.

Most non-native bats are illegal because of the risk of rabies, though no captively-bred bats have ever transmitted the disease.

What Does a Bat Eat?

Besides the risk of disease, a bat’s eating habits are one of the largest barriers that prevent these creatures from being legal pets in the United States. A bat typically eats 500–1,000 mosquitos in a single night. It usually collects its food over three hunting runs throughout the evening. A captive bat can survive a short time on mealworms, but it will not be receiving the correct nutrition and will not live very long. Fruit bats, which are legal in some areas, will eat small fruit like bananas, avocados, or mangos. A bat’s metabolism is extremely high, so it will need to eat almost constantly while it is awake.

Do Bats Spread Rabies?

Bats
Image Credit: Piqsels

Because bats fly through the air near human populations, humans are more likely to encounter them when they are rabid. Bats are currently the most frequently reported rabid wildlife species in America.

Do Bats Make Good Pets?

Unfortunately, like many species of wild animals, you can’t tame bats even after a long time in captivity. A bat will always try to break free and bite or cause other harm if it feels threatened or cornered. There is no way to create a proper habitat for them nor provide them with the nutrition they require. Bats have extremely sharp teeth and are difficult to catch if they break free. Plus, bats also tend to rub their urine into their fur, giving them a terrible smell that will travel throughout your house and create an unhygienic environment.

Do Bats Attack Humans?

Bat on tree
Image Credit: Piqsels

Bats do not usually attack humans. Aside from our enormous size difference, we are not part of a bat’s typical diet. The most likely reason that a bat would knowingly get close to a human is that mosquitoes are attracted to people, and the bats are after them. Their impressive flying abilities should prevent them from running into you most of the time. Vampire bats are the exception to the rule because they feed off the blood of mammals, including livestock, birds, and even humans. Almost all vampire bats live south of the American border in Latin and South America, and the ones that attack humans are usually rabid.

Do Bats Cause Damage?

If bats unexpectedly invade your home, they can cause a considerable amount of damage. They don’t dig or chew, but they do eliminate all over. In a situation like this, as mentioned, it could be against the law to interfere with them. You would likely need to call a wildlife conservation organization or zoo for help with relocating them.

Quick Facts

2 bats on tree
Image Credit: Piqsels
  • Bats are the only mammals that can fly.
  • The bat’s small wings allow them superior maneuverability in the air.
  • Bats have a high metabolism and can digest most fruits in only 20 minutes.
  • Bats use echolocation to see at night but can see fine during the day.
  • Bats can live 20 years or more in the wild but rarely last more than 24 hours once held captive.

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Summary

Unfortunately, bats do not make great pets, and many states and municipalities have laws in place that prevent you from even giving it a try. You will need to admire these amazing creatures just before it gets dark each night as they collect their food in their natural habitat. Remember to thank them for doing their part in helping to diminish the mosquito population which can transfer all kinds of diseases to us and our pets. If you want to be close to bats, we recommend joining a wildlife conservation organization that works with them, so you can help increase their numbers while learning more about them.

We hope you have enjoyed reading and found the answers you need. If we have helped you understand why owning a bat is not a good idea, please share this guide to if bats make great pets on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re looking for information on more unusual pets, we recommend:


Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.