I should hate bats.
For five of the past six Augusts, we’ve had a bat in our home.
One time, a bat swooped into our family room at 9pm as my husband and I watched television. We got it outside with a tennis racquet.
The next August, my husband used that same racquet to slam a bat against our bedroom wall, killing it. I was sad for it but that little bat caused us some headaches: it was rabid and that meant that I, my husband, and our one-year-old son had to endure a series of painful rabies shots that cost $1,500.
Another August, I checked on my sleeping toddler and as I walked out of his room, a bat flew past me down the hallway. I slammed the door, waking my son, and said, “Shit, shit, shit.” It was the first time he heard me swear (maybe). My husband was out of town, and I was caught in my son’s room with no phone. So I told him to stay put, grabbed his comforter, threw it over my shoulders, and crawled to my cell phone. Did I mention I was 9 months pregnant? An officer came to capture the bat for testing. It was his first time. He shrieked and swore louder than I ever did.
The last August we had a bat, the sound of scratching awoke me. For some unknown reason, seeing as we were Bat Central, I thought it was a mouse. I flipped on the lights and looked at the floor. No mouse. I looked up. Bat.
Finally, our house seems to have been properly sealed, as we did not encounter a bat this August. I actually feel kinda bad. Bats tend to go back to the nesting site they’ve used for generations. I envision a group of homeless bats wandering about and sitting on their suitcases, a la the final scene in Fried Green Tomatoes.
When you have bats five years in a row, you learn about them. They’re not blind, for example. They can walk up stairs. Only 1% of the population has rabies (weren’t we lucky?). And a bat can eat 1,000 mosquitoes an hour. Without bats, we’d use a helluva lot more pesticides.
The more you learn about something, the more you feel a sort of kinship with it. At least, I do. Even with bats.
Plus, it’s hard not to root for an underdog/bat. They’re dying by the millions from a fungus that came from Europe a few years ago. It’s traveling east to west and has made it across the Mississippi. It’s the worst mammal epidemic on this continent ever. This is on top of the habitat loss already occurring.
Scientists are still working on the problem. In the meantime, do yourself, your neighborhood, and bats a favor: erect a nice little bat house in your backyard.
CLICK HERE to start shopping. My bats and I thank you.
The Latest at Great New Books: This month, we’re reading Erika Robuck’s new novel, Hemingway’s Girl. And this week, if you enter a comment in our discussion, you are eligible to win a personalized signed copy of our October book pick, Lydia Netzer’s Shine Shine Shine! Come join the fun and discover great books with us!
Related links & articles
- Bat World
- Bat houses suggested to help fight mosquitoes (sfgate.com)
- A backyard DIY project to arm against West Nile virus (kens5.com)