Friday, August 22, 2008

The Great Bat Escapade of 2008

My mother-in-law called late last night hoping that I could help her with two bats that had found their way into her house. Note that I didn’t say my mother-in-law called late last night hoping that D could help her with her bats. Note that I also didn’t say my mother-in-law called late last night hoping that we could help her with her bats. Nope. She called late last night hoping that I could help her with her bats.

Why?, you ask.

Because every single person in my husband’s family is petrified of bats, of course. What other good reason could there be for expecting a pregnant chick to hop out of bed, giving up much needed sleep time, to clumsily chase a bat around the house, hoping not smash her growing belly into anything too dangerous in her pursuit of flying rodents? That’s the only good reason I can think of.

Even her dog is afraid of bats, it appears.

I declined to help with the bat chase for the simple reason that I knew if I got up and went out long enough to hunt down rogue bats, I wouldn’t wake up for work in the morning. Gestating is hard work, people. It makes me sleepy. D told his mother to call my brother-in-law instead.

The simple problem with this is that my brother-in-law is also petrified of bats. As I was drifting off to sleep the phone rang again and D informed me that my brother-in-law was currently chasing the bats around the house wearing a plastic laundry basket over his head and waving a blanket around to capture the poor creatures. Apparently this constitutes standard bat-chasing gear. I have yet to hear the outcome of last night’s charade, though I’m sure it will be entertaining. If it’s good enough I’ll update you.

I have no idea why D and his family are so terrified of bats. I’ve tried to tell him that they’re not going to hurt him, but he remains convinced that one day a bat will swoop down from the sky, bite him on the neck, dig in with it’s little fangs far enough to produce a fair amount of gore, and fly off again with a large enough chunk of him to feed a herd of small bat-lings. D is further convinced that each and every bat that exists either 1) has rabies or 2) is a vampire bat and will turn him into the undead. Nevermind that, to date, there are ZERO reported cases of people turning into the undead after an encounter with a bat. Nevermind that bats don’t make a habit of eating human flesh. Nevermind that none of the bats I have chased out of anyone’s home (5 or 6 to date) have actually come close to even touching me. Nevermind any of that. Clearly, bats are dangerous man-eating, zombie-making machines, out for revenge on the human race. Obviously.

I’ve also tried to convince D that bats are more afraid of him that he is of them. As I witness his terror increase, I could change my mind on this one, but generally I think it would be pretty scary to be a bat trapped in a person’s house. Think about it. You wouldn’t be able to get out to your little bat family and there would be all these walls all over the place you weren’t used to so you might fly into them and there wouldn’t be any handy bat food sitting around. Not to mention that you’re trapped inside with the predator highest on the food chain. It could be downright freaky to be a bat trapped in someone’s house. I imagine that when bats fly around people’s houses and realize there are human beings present they probably think to themselves, “Oh, shit! I’ve gone and gotten trapped in a human’s house. How do I get out of here?”. When said bats start trying to find their way out and are confronted by strange creatures camouflaged with blankets and plastic laundry baskets, the “Oh, shit!” factor must intensify tenfold. After all, there is no creature in nature quite like a human with a blanket and a plastic laundry basket in tow. Mama bat never taught them how to defend themselves against that.

I actually kind of like bats. I think I read somewhere that they eat their weight in mosquitoes. I don’t know if that’s over the course of an evening or a week or the whole summer. Either way, they eat mosquitoes, so they’re okay in my book. Now I’d prefer not to have a bat colony roosting in my attic or anything, but I don’t think bats are so bad. They’re just little critters that want to fly around and eat mosquitoes and hang out with other bats and show off how they can hang upside down. I’m cool with that.

The last time D’s mom got a bat stuck in her house, I was called to the rescue. I never did find the bat and my mother-in-law spent a week hiding out downstairs with every door in the house closed for fear a giant bat would sneak up on her and attack her. The time before that, I did find the bat. It was hiding out in my mother-in-law’s bedroom, looking for a way home. My husband, his mother, his sister, and his nephew all crowded around the house outside, looking hopefully up at the bedroom window. If you’d been driving by and didn’t know better, you might have thought there was a fire somewhere in the house and everyone was waiting outside for the brave fireman to rescue a poor child who’d been trapped inside and was shouting out the window for help. Nope, no such thing. Just a bat.

D and his mother armed me as best as they could with a broom. No one offered me a plastic laundry basket or a blanket, and I didn’t think to ask for them. At the time, I didn’t know this was standard bat-hunting gear. I made my way up to mother-in-law’s room with my trusty broom, shut the door and opened the window, hoping that I could coax the bat out of the room and into the night without any chance of it escaping to another room in the house.

Unfortunately, when you turn on the light in my mother-in-law’s bedroom, the ceiling fan also comes on. This constitutes a serious bat hazard that I did not foresee. Remember me telling you how the poor bats who get trapped inside of houses have to deal with running into walls they didn’t know were there? Well, they also have to deal with the possibility that some fancy piece of gadgetry might somehow put them into a trance in which they fly around and around and around in circles beneath spinning fan blades without the power to make themselves stop. This poor little bat had been hypnotized by the shiny lights and spinning blades and just couldn’t stop. I didn’t know what to do. On one hand, I could use the broom like a baseball bat and try to whack the bat out the window on his next turn around the fan blades. This didn’t seem like a very nice option to me as I am generally against the harming of defenseless little bats. On the other hand, I couldn’t figure out how to stop the fan blade without turning out the light and I wasn’t about to hunt down the bat in the dark. In the end I had to settle for catching the bat on the end of the broom and nudging him out the window and into the night. I’m still a little traumatized by the potential damage I did to the poor little guy, but I was trying to be as gentle as possible which is hard to do when all you have to work with is a broom. On the upside, he did fly away from the scene which suggests to me that he was generally okay.

I guess next time I should ask for a laundry basket and a blanket.

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