Bats, FM 21-76

BATS

11-13. Despite the legends, bats (Desmodus species) are a relatively small hazard to you. There are many bat varieties worldwide, but you find the true vampire bats only in Central and South America. They are small, agile fliers that land on their sleeping victims, mostly cows and horses, to lap a blood meal after biting their victim. Their saliva contains an anticoagulant that keeps the blood slowly flowing while they feed. All bats are considered to carry rabies. Any physical contact is considered to be a rabies risk. They can carry other diseases and infections and will bite readily when handled. However, taking shelter in a cave occupied by bats presents the much greater hazard of inhaling powdered bat dung, or guano. Bat dung carries many organisms that can cause diseases. Eating thoroughly cooked flying foxes or other bats presents no danger from rabies and other diseases, but again, the emphasis is on thorough cooking.

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