We had a visitor last night, and not a welcome one. However, I’m determined to find a way to use this scene in a story.
I was sitting at the computer (it must have been a bit after 10) preparing to close things down for the night. I was checking in with a friend on Facebook Messenger, when I heard my son let out a shout from the game room on the other end of the house. I didn’t pay much attention, as that usually means either he’s come up against something in a video game that annoyed him, or the cat is into mischief and he’s trying to stop her from breaking something or hurting herself.
Not this time, though. The next thing I know, there’s a commotion. I hear doors closing, and (after he secured the cat in the bathroom) he came running out. It took a minute for his, “MOM! There’s a bat flying around the game room!” to register.
What the heck? How on earth? Grab the Garlic! Sharpen a stake! Find some mirrors!
Okay, so I called Wes Laraway, my good friend, head of New York Wildlife Rescue Center, and the closest thing I know of to a local authority on bats.
It turned out that Wes was, at that moment, texting someone else. Someone else who was chasing a bat around her house. What are the odds?
We still don’t know how it got in, but have semi-narrowed it down to a number of different possibilities. Some of those would be easy to remedy (fix the screen in the bathroom window, for instance). Some? Not so easy. One in particular is going to be a bugbear that means moving birds out of their aviary temporarily and replacing part of a ceiling, but I don’t even want to think about that.
Wes made suggestions. Throw a towel over it. Open a window and it will fly out. Calm down before you have a heart attack. None of the suggestions were flying, but the bat certainly was, frantically, around the room. I know this, because I was in the room with it, dressed in hoodie, sweat pants, heavy work gloves, and armed with a bath towel.
- Note for future reference, though I hope you never need the advice: If a bat expert tells you to throw a towel over a bat to catch it, don’t get your hopes too high. It’s probably not going to happen unless the bat is exhausted and sitting on the floor in front of you. Trust me, I tried.
- Note Two for future reference: If a bat expert tells you the bat will instinctively head for an open window because it can smell the outdoors? The bat is in almost as much of a panic as you are. It’s probably not sniffing for fresh air. Just be sure to close the window after you finally catch the bat, since you now know there are bats in the neighborhood.
- Note Three for future reference: a cardiologist’s advice to a patient with an arrhythmia to avoid strenuous exertion and stress goes right out the window when there is a bat in the house (despite the fact that the bat will not go right out the window; see Note Two).
Finally, after what was probably an hour of the two of us trying to corral this little critter, which, by the way, can fly, the bat was exhausted. As were we. It clung to the push pin of a poster up by the ceiling over the bed, and my son, who is 6′ 4″, was able to pop a large container over it and trap it against the wall. I located a thick piece of corrugated cardboard (cut from a Chewy.com box. Yay, Chewy), which he slid carefully under the container. The bat was not happy, and was loudly and vocally letting us know this.
- Note four: most websites on Little Brown Bats mention that you won’t hear much from them, because their calls are too high-pitched. These sites don’t take into account really ticked off Little Brown Bats captured in plastic containers. We could hear it just fine. Fortunately, we don’t speak the language, or our ears would still be burning.
We took the bat outside and released it on the front deck. The last I spotted it, which was within a half second of it taking off (it wasted no time skedaddling), it was headed toward the road. I hope it kept going till it was far away from the crazy lady in the hoodie and suede workgloves.
I also hope it was an only child.
Learn more about the Little Brown Bat on the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website.