My Campus Could Give Me Rabies

Photo by Susan Hanson

Photo by Susan Hanson

Here at Texas State University, we have bats. There are bats in the allies, bats in the parking garages, and sometimes bats in the open.

It was about two years ago when I received the first email about bats warning me to stay away from them and to never touch them if I were to see one on the ground, dead or alive. The bats here are known to carry rabies, and I believe two years ago a student was bitten by a bite and came down with the unpleasant disease. At the time, I was concerned, but I hadn’t actually seen the bats. I could hear them when I walked in the Nueces Alleyway or through the Alkek Parking Garage late at night, and I could see their droppings along the walls and floors, but had never actually seen one.

Now, two years later, I’ve seen two bats and have seen a sign warning of another bat sighting.

Last semester right around the time when students were moving in to the residence halls for the first time, there was a bat spotted directly outside my residence hall‘s front door. It was one of the last days of RA Training and all the Tower Hall RAs were gathered in the Tower lobby. I can’t remember what we were meeting for. Later, Ted, our Area Director, walked in and said, “Hey, did you guys know there’s a bat right there?” as he pointed to the baseboard of the front door.

“Really?!” we all exclaimed. A few of us, including myself, jumped up and ran to the door. Literally jumped right up to the door was a tiny, lifeless bat. I was really surprised at how small the animal was. I was expecting them to be larger. The animal looked smaller than my clenched fist. Curled up, his wings were wrapped underneath him allowing his light tan fur to show. I don’t know how he died, but I felt sad.

We called in the bat sighting and later he was retrieved and a bright, yellow sign was posted on our door that stated something along the lines of, “WARNING! A bat was spotted here within the last two weeks and tested positive for rabies. Please do not touch bats!”

That sign stayed up throughout the entirety of New Student Move-In.

A few months later another bat was sighted over by Gallardia and Chautauqua Halls, the newest halls on campus. The dead bat was again retrieved and the sign posted.

It was just yesterday when I spotted another bat. I was riding my bike home from class when I passed the Nueces Police Building. I can hear the chatter of bats whenever I walk through the alleyway inbetween the Nueces Building and Retama Hall, but I’ve never actually seen a bat in the area. This time, I saw a small, brown, curled up little bat right by the wall behind the building. It looked exactly like the bat I had seen curled up to Tower several months ago. I didn’t stop, but continued riding my bike until I got to Tower.

Once parked, I called the Non-Emergency University Police Department phone-line and reported the sighting. I wasn’t in the area and I never received any follow-up, but I’m sure the bat was taken care of and I’m assuming that it tested positive for rabies and that the bright yellow sign was posted. I’ll have to check next time I go to class.

So far, I’ve only seen dead bats here on campus. Hopefully, I’ll never run into a live one because I know someone who’s been through rabies treatment and it is not a pleasant experience…