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.



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15 responses to “Batting .833”

  1. Nicole A. Winter Avatar

    I completely empathize with your point about knowing more about an animal growing into a kind of kinship with them. We’ve definitely had our occasional run-in with a bat in our house, but there was an incident years ago, that really turned my attitude towards bats around. Here’s my bat story: As a child I went to a far out Polo, IL Christian camp, called Rock River. The third year I went I was walking about when I came into a clearing with a tree. A group of youngish, (5th – 6th grade boys who should have known better,) were pelting rocks at the tree. Intrigued, I walked over and realized to my horror that they were pelting rocks at what seemed to be a baby bat hanging off the side of the tree. Lucky for the bat, they were lousy aims. Immediately, I mustered my righteous indignation, scooping the bat up onto my shirt. It clung to me for it’s very life. (Not something I’d ever recommend doing, bats, even if it’s just %1 of the population *can* carry rabies.) I began yelling at the boys, that this was one of God’s creatures, how *dare* they try to kill it for sport. For awhile, I walked around with the bat clinging to me, when suddenly, it stretched it’s wings out and flew away. Every since then I’ve loved bats. They’re hideously ugly, of course, but that doesn’t make them any less marvelous!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it–and thanks for sticking up for the poor thing.

  2. Jennifer Lyn King Avatar

    Wow, Jess! You’ve really had some bats. We used to have a bat house at our home in the US, but never had any bats. I think it was our fault — we didn’t mount it high enough. I hope the fungus epidemic leaves US bats alone soon…

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Yes – and we even had one in our condo in Minnesota. I’m starting to think it’s something about us.

  3. thatgirlwhoreadsbooks Avatar

    I love bats. I got a bat house from Farm and Fleet and the bats actually inhabit it. Luckily for me, the little guys never got into our house. Knock on wood.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Oh, good. I just bought mine and I still need to install it; hopefully a nice family will find it.

  4. Krista B Avatar
    Krista B

    Thanks for sharing! This is an interesting perspective, especially given your rocky relationship with the bat family. I can’t believe you dealt with all of this with a one-year-old, and while pregnant.
    I grew up being told how good they were, only because flocks of them would swoop through my parent’s yard on summer nights and it freaked me out. When they infested my house in college, I decided I officially hated them but always kept their positive qualities in the back of my mind. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      It’s hard to remember, true, when you’re faced with a bat swooping through your house. Glad I could help!

  5. Melissa Crytzer Fry Avatar

    Love your bat post (and agree 100% that the more you learn about something, the more of a kinship you develop). We have a huge bat problem at the new house we’re building (behind the current house we’re in) … Since the house has four porches, they LOVE to hang there at night and leave their droppings ALL OVER the concrete. Stains, stains, stains – and poop down the sliding glass doors. Despite that annoyance, I, like you, am aware of how beneficial they are to the ecosystem. And like you, I was aware of the fungus impacting them so greatly. Long live the bats (as long as they’re not in your house)!

    Just how painful ARE the shots, and why do they hurt so much?

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Our shots were given in the rear (TMI?) and for some reason, that hurt. But I think any shot is painful because usually the nurse is poking me over and over again to find a vein.
      After the first shot, I don’t remember the subsequent ones being as painful, but that first one was a doozy.
      Good luck finding alternative accommodations for your bats!

  6. Melissa Crytzer Fry Avatar
    Melissa Crytzer Fry

    PS I wonder if putting a bat house in the yard would detract them AWAY from the eaves of the porches???

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      I bet it would — that’s what I hear, anyway. That if you give them a place to roost (and facing south, to keep warm in the sun even in winter–though not sure if that applies to AZ, too), they’ll use it. I’m sure somewhere there’s info on how to keep them away from the eaves–something safe, like spraying cayenne pepper on the wood.

  7. Hallie Sawyer Avatar
    Hallie Sawyer

    Never have had a bat in the house but they swoop over the back yard almost every night. We have a treed creek area right next to our house and I think they have a home in there somewhere. I understand the benefit to their existence but I don’t want them existing in my house. Blech!

    When you said you got it out with tennis racquets I totally pictured John Candy in The Great Outdoors! LOL! That would so be me!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Oh, it was hilarious. I closed my eyes through most of it, mostly because I’m way too tender-hearted and didn’t want to see the poor thing get it, but I heard a lot of air swooshes and missed hits, scrambling and little yelps (from my husband, not the bat).

  8. […] to me since high school, when I chose to write a report on their reintroduction to Yellowstone. As with bats, I loved this misunderstood species as soon as I began learning about them. In fact, they play a […]

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