GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Two people at the University of Florida (search) were bitten by bats in the same week, including a student who must undergo rabies shots. School administrators are reminding everyone that however small, the creatures are still wild animals.
In the first incident last week, student Danny DePaz saw a trembling, mouse-size bat (search) wedged under a classroom door and took pity, fearing it could be squashed.
"I nudged him with a pen and he went back in. Then I grabbed his little leg," DePaz said. The bat responded by biting DePaz on the finger. He dropped it and left.
A classmate took the creature to the university's College of Veterinary Medicine, where tests found it was rabid. DePaz, 22, has started a series of shots.
A day later, a woman whose name was not released was bitten when she picked up a sick bat. It tested negative for rabies (search).
The injuries were the first bat bites at the University of Florida in two decades. University officials are scrambling to make students, staff and faculty are aware of the danger.
"They are mammals and are susceptible to rabies just like dogs, cats, raccoons, skunks and foxes," said Ken Glover, a pest management coordinator at the university. "They should not be handled by untrained, unvaccinated people."
There have been eight recorded fatalities from rabid bat bites in the past 30 years in the United States and Canada, according to the university's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Bats are known to invade crevices in buildings and hide during the day. Tens of thousands of the creatures live nearby in a house the university constructed for bats.