This Is Not Your Belfry

I came home earlier this evening hoping to relax and prepare a nice dinner. After entering the kitchen and switching on the lights, a shadow seemed to flash by. A moth, I thought. It must have snuck in when we opened the door.

But something told me it was no moth. The shadow seemed too large and it was too cold outside for moths.

Another flutter past my head and into the living room. This time I saw the distinct flap of wings. “Was that a bird?” I wondered aloud to my wife, realizing that birds had almost certainly gone south. I cautiously approached the living room. I switched on the lights and the wings fluttered into the adjacent family room, which was still dark. I stepped closer and switched on the lights. Slowly, carefully, I peered around the corner. My fears were confirmed. Perched upside down, high up on the crown molding was a bat. Now we’ve dealt with the land-based rodent invaders in the past, but there’s something particular disturbing about having a bat flying around your house. Or even, as it was at present, hanging around your house.

We needed a plan of attack. We sent our son upstairs and closed the door that connected the living and family rooms to the rest of the house. We needed to get this thing O-U-T. So I propped open the front door (which connects to the living room) and then donned battle gear to protect me from a potential bat assault. The battle gear, in this case, consisted of hastily collected snow gloves, a winter hat, and a broom. For good measure, I added a flashlight to the mix (the idea being that bats like darkness and thus the flashlight could serve as a bat-saber of sorts). Looking completely ridiculous to any outside observer, I hoisted up the broomstick and returned to the family room to drive the bat toward the door.

Bats are sensitive to motion and noise, so a few close waves of the broomstick against the nearby wall was all it took to send the bat fluttering over my cowering head back toward the living room. To my dismay, the dumb creature didn’t fly right out the door as I had clearly set out for it to do, but instead flew back and forth several times across the living room before perching high up in a corner near the ceiling.

I approached again with the broomstick and swooshed near it, like a brave knight approaching the fearsome dragon, only dancing around it in a rather ridiculous manner instead of launching an assault. This succeeded only in several more swoops around the room before it escaped again into the family room. My fellow warrior (a.k.a wife) had been dispatched to the computer to collect intelligence and informed me how I should rearrange the lighting pattern to drive the bat out the door. If lights away from the door were on and those near the door were off, the bat should just eventually find its way out. After several minutes of broomstick swinging and diving for cover were met only with the bat finding new places to perch in the room a new plan of attack was needed. Strangely, yelling “go away, stupid bat” was surprisingly ineffective.

We opened all the windows in both the living room and family room to increase the bats chances at exit, but this only caused us to succeed at making our home a cold, bat-infested house instead of just a bat-infested house. Maybe it was time to throw in the towel. While my wife made a few vain attempts at broom jousting, I scoured the Internet for bat removal services. After a few phone calls, it quickly became apparent that no such service was going to be available on a Sunday evening.

I returned to survey the situation. The bat was now sitting atop a window in the family room. Lacking a butterfly net (which the Internet tells me is one of the better tools for catching these winged bearers of rabies), I searched the house for other approaches. I picked up a wire wastebasket and walked around the house with it for a few minutes before realizing that the holes in the mesh may be suboptimal while trying to prevent claws or teeth from inflicting damage. After a long search, I settled on a plastic storage box from the basement.

I slowly approached the pest and carefully lowered the transparent box on top of it. Surprisingly, it didn’t move, but stayed glued to the window frame. I carefully slid the box lid between the mouth of the box and the wall, eventually knocking the bat down into the box. In a panicked motion, I swooped the box downward, slid the lid into place, and clamped it shut. My prisoner was safe inside.

My wife and I rushed to close all the windows, lest any family members of this fellow decide to join in the fun. Once the house was secure, I took our friend down to the sidewalk and slowly removed the lid, jumping back as it clattered to the ground. The dumb creature just crawled along the bottom of the box. “Idiot,” I thought, “this is your chance at freedom. Fly away while you still can!” This bat was going to need some more encouragement. Using the box lid, I gave the side of the box a firm push, knocking it onto its side. The bat seemed startled at first, but finally got the message and flew into the trees.

I returned home, empty box in hand, weary, but victorious. Maybe next time I won’t get upset when we forget to turn out the lights.

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