I like living indoors. That, and eating regularly, are two big reasons why I continue to work. Therefore I can understand on a certain level the desire of wild animals to move into my house. What I can’t understand is the recent appeal. Last Sunday it was a gopher. Last night it was a bat.
Our bedroom is on the second floor and we have a large awning over the window. In the dark I’m sure the space under the awning seems very cavelike. It’s also an old house and the top of the screen in the window doesn’t always stay in its track. Rather than find a replacement for the screen, I use the Red Green approach of strategically applied duck tape. About 1:00 a.m. my wife and I heard a tell-tale skritch at the screen, followed moments later by the screen popping and the sound of leathery wings in the room. I turned the nightstand lamp on to reveal a rather large specimen of a brown bat with a wingspan a little bigger than my hand, circling the room with lots of sudden changes in altitude.
Suddenly in the middle of our own Wild Kingdom episode, my wife claims the role of Marlin Perkins: “I’ll stay in the bed with the sheet pulled up to my eyes while John wrestles the beast into submission and counts its teeth.”
The first order of business is for me to commando-crawl over to the window to raise the screen in the hopes the bat will go out the same way it came in. Yeah, I know the bat doesn’t want to run into me anymore than I want to run into it, but it’s hard to maintain good posture when a crazed creature is zooming around at the level of your adam’s apple. Next, get on over to the small closet door and close it and the door to the master bath, and then into the walk-in closet to turn the light on. Past experience has shown us that if you give a bat a dark place filled with lots of clothes to hide in, that’s where it will go. This time it is too easy, as after about a minute of doing laps around the room the bat finally got itself lined up properly with the open window and was long gone.
We get about one bat episode a summer and I suppose I should try a more effective approach with the window screen, but I have to admit that this is kind of fun and a good source of material. The first time we had a bat in the house it came in through my youngest daughter’s window. She started crying about a bug in her room, which sent my wife in that direction, rather grumpily, wondering why a bug was such a big deal – until she opened the door and turned on the light. Stalemate. My wife wasn’t going in, my daughter wasn’t coming out, and the bat kept circling. I went in, scooped my daughter and my wife slammed the door as I came out and we left the situation for daylight.
The next day I went in with my leather work gloves, a broom and a dustpan and finally determined the bat must be hiding in the closet. I opened the windows and tried to make enough noise and commotion to flush the critter out, but it was hanging tough out of sight. My wife came in and started to go through the closet one hanger at a time, pulling out the clothing and shaking it while I stood ready to pounce on whatever moved. About a third of the way through the closet she shook a dress and the bat dropped out … and slid down my wife’s bare leg (she was wearing shorts) to the floor. I really wish I could have admired her bat dance in greater detail but I stayed focused on my mission and clapped the broom down on top of the creature. Once the secondary tremors had faded my wife grabbed an empty trash can and put it over the bat as I removed the broom; it was soon returned to the wild via the window.
The episode is one of our favorite family stories, and we’ve since learned that my wife’s bat dance is dramatically different from her spider dance. But that’s a story for another day.
When it comes to animal control problems, what are a few bats and gophers around the house, anyway? At least I don’t have to feed them. One man is going to great and hilarious lengths to keep his birdfeeder from becoming a squirrel’s answer to Old Country Buffet, and you can read about it here.