AN increase in hungry bats entering Hervey Bay backyards in search of food has prompted a health warning from Queensland Health.
Hervey Bay bat carers and residents have reported an increase in underweight bats being found in residential gardens seeking limited food sources during the day.
Queensland Health's senior director of communicable diseases, Dr Christine Selvey, urged people to avoid touching the bats.
She said the chances of bats approaching humans increased when they were hungry.
"We ask people to use common sense and avoid going near the bats that are clearly looking for food, to avoid being scratched or bitten," Dr Selvey said. "Anyone who is concerned about a sick or injured bat should make contact with a fully vaccinated wildlife rescuer or carer who is trained to handle and care for bats.
"Call the experts rather than taking the matter into your own hands. Bat bites and scratches most commonly occur as a result of someone trying to rescue or pick up a sick, injured or distressed bat, so we ask people not to do it."
Dr Selvey said all bat scratches and bites required treatment, including vaccination.
If you have been bitten or scratched phone 13 432584 (health) for advice.