Let’s get one thing straight. I love bats. They’re vital pollinators, help keep the mosquito populations down, and only rarely interact with humans.
Rarely, but not never.
I’ve met a bat two times, and the first time went pretty well.
The first time I met a bat, I was very happy to see it. I saw the little thing hunched up on my porch to take a little nap. I was super excited. I’d never seen a bat up close before! I grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures of the little guy, a huge smile on my face.
Then the bat decided he was tired of the papparazzi. In an instant, he turned on me, screeching and flapping and dive-bombing my head. I was out on my porch covering my face and waving my arms frantically. And, apparently, screaming. About five minutes later, my landlord banged on my door and asked if I was okay. “I heard you screaming,” he cried, “ and it looked like you were in trouble.” I glanced down at what he was holding: an industrial size canister of wasp killer.
The second time I met a bat, I was not so happy.
I’m no stranger to wildlife in my home. My house is 125 years old and has a dirt floor basement with a rubble foundation. So yes, there are mice in my walls. We have an agreement, though, that if they stay out of my living space and don’t chew any important wires, I won’t have to trap them and drop them off in a field half a mile away. I’ve only had to enforce this rule a handful of times over the years.
And there are always cats, raccoons, opossums, and rabbits living underneath my porch. As long as they stay outdoors, we have no problem.
But those are all terrestrial animals. The flying ones, though, that’s another story.
I had just returned from a two-week vacation and it was raining buckets. Torrential, relentless rain that our windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with. By the time we got back to the house, though, the rain had let up and the sun was warming up the earth. The weather was supposed to be nice from that point on, so I aired out the house and left the windows open all day.
By nightfall, we were settling in for a little pre-bedtime family television. I still hadn’t shut the windows.
While we watched the hamburger episode of Worth It, a huge black figure swooped across my living room.
To my utter confusion, a bat — a real live bat — swept wildly around the room, aimless and terrifying.
At first, my brain registered a bird in the house, but deep down, I knew that couldn’t be right. I know birds. I had pet birds, I know how they move, and am comfortable around them. But bats… bats are erratic. They have a chaotic movement and they move SO fast. Way faster than you think they should.
I sent my kids and dog upstairs and closed as many doors as I could — except the front door. I hoped to shoo the bat out of the house. But it wouldn’t go. It zoomed in circles around my room and I hid behind an umbrella. I popped it open as the bat came closer, hoping to keep it from sneaking upstairs or roosting somewhere I couldn’t see it anymore. Maybe if I shooed it with the umbrella enough, it would get scared out the open door. Twenty minutes of indoor umbrella popping went by, though, and the thing wouldn’t leave. I had googled everything I could to get rid of bats without hurting them and was doing a lot of it right, but it just couldn’t find the door. So out of desperation, I did the only sensible thing I could think to do in the case of a home invasion.
I called the cops.
Just to be clear, I don’t have many options when asking for help. I live in a small and relatively rural town, so there is no animal control, wildlife center, pest control, or humane society. I’d exhausted google’s DIY options, so at this point, it was either call the non-emergency police, allow my shotgun-toting neighbors to shoot up my living room, or live with a bat in my house forever. I opted for the fuzz.
While I waited for my savior, I tried to figure out why the bat decided to pop in for a surprise visit. My best guess was that it was looking for a safe, dry place to get out of the rain and decided my window was a good choice. I’d left it open long enough, surely there was ample opportunity for the little guy to sneak in the house.
Finally, when the officer did arrive, he kind of loitered by his car for awhile to assess the situation. Here he was, probably having drawn the short straw on a weird wild animal encounter, and there’s this crazy woman waving an umbrella over her head. The cop wasn’t in much of a hurry, clearly, and probably wasn’t convinced I was fully sane. But he did see through the window that, yes, there was indeed a bat zipping around this frenzied-looking woman’s living room.
With a huge sigh, he walked (very slowly) back toward his vehicle and returned with thick leather gloves and a big net. In hindsight, I think it was a borrowed pool cleaner.
The cop trudged up to my wide-open front door, and just as he was about to cross the threshold, the bat got wise and went flying out the door like — well — like a bat out of hell.
But the bat had other plans. It flew not ten feet before it decided to circle back and go back into my house.
This time, the umbrella trick worked.
I popped it open just a fraction of a second before it slithered back into my house, and the poor terrified thing flew off into the night. I slammed the door shut.
The cop looked about as relieved as I was and walked back to his car with a bit more spring in his step than he had approaching the house.
“Thank you for coming,” I said, adrenaline flushing from my system. “Sorry about all this and I hope this is the craziest thing you have to deal with tonight.”
With a genuine smile, he turned and said, “It will be.”