Monday, July 5, 2010

Going a Bit Batty

It's a bird, it's a plane... no, it's

flying over our heads in the family room, no less!

We had noticed these nocturnal flyers at dusk through our side windows for the last few weeks. I had been thinking I should make sure they are not nesting in our chimney or using our house for summer camp, but of course hadn't gotten around to it. We really aren't sure how or when this bat got into our house -- perhaps when I let the dogs out one night or maybe it came into the garage and waited for it's opportunity to sneak in when I was unloading groceries.

All I know is that we were calmly watching television in a semi-dark room when the bat swooped over our heads. Our immediate reaction was high pitched screams, blanket-throwing over our heads, and sheer panic! That was probably the stupidest thing we could have done as in our lapse of reason we lost track of where it went!

Armed with a broom, bristle side up, going before us like a cross, hunkered down like old peasant women with blankets over our heads, we searched the house -- room by room. No bat. We called animal control but this was a week ago Sunday night -- they were definitely not going to be sending anyone over at 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday to find a bat that we couldn't even find. Furthermore, they informed us, we didn't really need to be afraid because if it was flying it wasn't "sick". It was the "sick" ones we needed to be concerned about. Great.

We were on our own. The first night we all slept together in the family room with every light in the dog-gone house on! I think we averaged 3 hours of shut-eye that night. At one point Serena the cat made a low growl and seemed to be looking at something in the dining room -- we ran over and opened the dining room door in hopes it would escape if it was in there. But after 10 minutes or so we were afraid we'd invite more unwelcome visitors so closed it again.

The next day I talked to several bat experts on the phone. One told us to take the screens off the windows and leave the doors and windows open that day, but to close them all before dusk (their feeding time). It's possible that the bat escaped the night before or that day. We still could not see it, though we walked ever so cautiously around the house.

I learned more about bats last week than I ever wanted to know. I learned that they eat as many as 1,000 insects in one night and that without them our whole eco-system would be thrown off. I learned that they can't take flight from the ground, like birds can. They have to crawl up on something so they can take flight again. They have to be upside down. If they didn't have such scarey looking faces, they might be more acceptable. Some are endangered species so it is against the law to kill them. This is baby season and since the pups (yes, they're called pups!) can't fly, it would not be wise to put up nets to capture them -- we would be capturing the mamas and the babies would die on the roof -- not good.

Two different bat men came out to give us estimates on de-batting our roof. The first guy came the first afteroon. He checked behind a few things with his mirror and flashlight, but outside of moving every stick of furniture and box, and cleaning out every closet's nooks and crannies, we were stuck. The good thing was that he examined the outside of the house, climbed up on the roof and looked around. He found their hide-out -- under the flashing by the chimney -- but assured me that the chimney had mesh over it and there was no way a bat could get inside except for flying in through a door when we weren't watching. Good news, bad news.

The second bat man came a few days later and basically reiterated exactly what the first guy said regarding their hiding place, their not being able to enter our home, and what we can and can't do. He said if we have bats, other people in the neighborhood have bats, and everyone just sort of lives with them. Lovely.

It's been over a week now. We haven't seen the bat nor evidence of the bat. We now sleep in our rooms with the lights off again, and are sort of "over it." So much fear comes from that which we do not understand. We get a bit braver when we are forced to deal with something and we have no choice in the matter. I feel silly for creating such a drama out of a bat in the house when I think about what some people have to deal with in life -- things that really test their mettle.

Yes, I'm talking courageously here. Until the next critter comes along, anyway.

(Photo is courtesy of Super Stock. I'm not getting close enough to snap a picture!)