Possible rabid bat attacks toddler

ATASCOCITA, TX Charlie Crocker says he found his young grandsons playing with the bat in the backyard Saturday afternoon.

It was the night before Halloween and a family backyard party turned scary when a bat actually got underneath the clothes of a toddler.

The two palm trees towering over Charlie Crocker's home in Atascocita are now a source of anxiety. Inside the dead leaves he believes a small bat colony resides. This past weekend, a family member discovered a bat was intrigued with his two toddler grandkids.

"Walked over to see what it was they were playing with and it was a live bat and it jumped up and flew up her pant leg. Of course everybody started running and screaming," Crocker said.

There were no obvious wounds on his grandkids. But Crocker took them to the hospital for inoculation anyway, as the bat's daytime appearance seemed peculiar.

"It signals to me that maybe something was wrong with the bat and that's why it came to the ground,' said Sara Jane Turner, Houston Zookeeper.

Turner says it's uncommon for bats to appear during the day. And while about 11 species of bats are prevalent in the Houston area, like fruit bats, it's the Mexican free tailed bat that is usually spotted in the suburbs.

Turner says with tiny, razor sharp teeth a bite is not always noticeable.

"They are very small animals and they have very small teeth, so it is hard to tell when a puncture wound has occurred," said Turner.

She also points out that bats are an integral part of the ecosystem, controlling insects and pollinating different plants. This weekend's incident is the second in the last few weeks after a boy handled a dead bat at the Lindsey Lyons Sports Complex. It later tested positive for rabies.

While Crocker's grandkids had no obvious wounds, he was not about to take any chances.

"Not necessarily bitten, but just exposed to a bat, you have to absolutely insist on the inoculations," said Crocker.

All three children in both incidents are undergoing a series of vaccination shots for rabies. So far this year, 11 bats tested positive for rabies in Harris County.

It is somewhat rare to die from rabies -- since 1995 an average of two people die a year from rabies after a bat bite.

You can read more on this story in The Atascocita Observer, one of our Houston Community Newspaper partners.

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