Schools deal with unwelcome visitor

Seminar addresses issue of living with bats

School officials, Animal Control and experts came together Friday to share information about what to do if you live near bats.

The seminar on living with bats and avoiding health risks was held at the Animal Care Services Annex building.

Bats love to make schools their home and they also pose a rabies risk. Dianne Odegard of Bat Conservation International offered a simple piece of advice if you come across a bat.

"You don't want to touch it. You don't want to take a chance on frightening it. Like any wild animal, a bat that's frightened might bite," said Odegard.

A bite from a bat may feel like the prick of a needle, but it can cause a variety of health issues.

Odegard said there are many types of bats already living in Texas, but there is one that is feared to be on its way. The vampire bat.

This dreaded bat likes warm temperatures and eating blood. The fear is that the vampire bat will move north from Mexico into Texas in the next 10 to 20 years.

"They will bite animals and humans and feed on blood, so they are constantly seeking out other invertebrates as a source of blood," said Dr. Edward Wozniak of Zoonosis State Health Services.

The good news is that in a natural habitat, bats are helpful, eating a lot of insects and helping to pollinate plants.