Going Batty

I opened my eyes. The only light in the dark room was the soft glow coming from an electric alarm clock on the bureau; the only sound, its quiet, steady tick-tock. Waking during the night at least once isn’t uncommon for me. Happily wiggling into a more comfortable position, I prepared to drift back to sleep.

The sound of the scrabbly, scritch-scratch of a small rodent made my eyes pop open again. I thought with resignation, “I have mouse in the house. That figures. It’s exactly a year since I last had one.”

While trying to remember where I put the mouse trap I had used last January, I heard a new sound. It was the distinctive rapid, high-pitched chatter that bats make. Then I felt something swooping low over the bed. It made one pass, then a second. When my night-time visitor tried to land on the bedroom wall, its leathery wings fluttered against the textured-plaster as it tried to get a toe hold.

I debated with myself, “Do I have to get up? Maybe I can just ignore it.” With a reluctant sigh, I decided the bat might keep me awake by fluttering around, so the best thing to do was remove it from my room.

I’m not afraid of bats. Leastways, not anymore. I’m ashamed to admit there was a time I not only demanded that someone other than myself capture the creature, but that it be put to death.

Shortly after I moved into this house I came home from work one day and found a bat hanging upside down near the ceiling in the dining room. My husband wasn’t home. But I knew my brother was home and that he’d come if I called. Casper obediently scooped the wee animal off the wall and killed it for me. Looking back now, I remember that with shame and regret.

As a child, some of my friends were afraid a bat would get tangled in their hair. We were also told bats often have rabies and would bite us. The final scare was when someone said bats suck blood like vampires.

We were never told about their sophisticated echo-location skills. Bats don’t want to get tangled in our hair and they won’t. None of the bats living in Wisconsin suck blood. It’s too bad we didn’t know the truth.

I began to love bats after learning about their dietary habits. They eat huge amounts of annoying bugs, like mosquitoes. Several sources say that bats will also eat some beetles. I wondered, “Do bats eat Asian lady beetles? I hope so!”

My house is battier than a belfry. One summer I had different bats fly through the living room every night for two weeks. Arnie would look up from reading his newspaper and casually say, “Kathy, your pet is back.”

I favor removing bat using a bath towel to sweep it out of the air as it flies by. Once it’s on the floor I use the towel like a pot-holder to pick the creature up. I have no foolhardy desire to touch them barehanded. I’ve often looked closely at the bats before releasing them into my back yard. They have ugly, little, toothy, hissing faces, ones that only a mother could love.

According to my research, some bats migrate to avoid winter. Most of the ones who don’t migrate crawl under bark or use caves to hibernate. Brown bats are the ones most likely to use human structures for hibernation. I also learned that bats nurse their young. They are the only mammals who have achieved flight.

As I slipped out of bed and turned on the lights, I thought, “Removing the bat from my bedroom shouldn’t take long.” Armed with a towel I scanned the room. Nothing. I peeked behind the bureau, bedside table and bookshelf. Nothing.

After checking the bathroom, hallway and other bedrooms, a sudden thought stopped me in my tracks. If I captured the bat, what would I do with it? Tossing it out into the snow would probably kill it. I didn’t want to do that! Then I realized that it was bad for the bat to wake during the winter. It could starve to death. Abandoning the hunt, I crawled back into my soft, warm nest and commanded, “Listen here, bat. Go eat a few Asian lady beetles and then go back to sleep. Winter isn’t over yet.”




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