Before I get into this post, let me say that I love bats. I enjoy watching them fly at night. I love the fact that they eat mosquitoes and other bugs. When I visit my daughter in Austin, we almost always go to watch the million-plus bats emerge from the Congress Avenue bridge. So I really do love bats.
I just don’t want them flying around my house.
Over the past week and a bit, we’ve discovered that we have a bat infestation. Well, infestation is a nasty word; call it an invasion instead. Because they’ve certainly moved in and started treating the place as their own.
We first heard something moving around in our heating/cooling ducts. (Our system is forced air, so we have big ducts attached to vents that blow hot or cold air into the rooms.) We thought maybe a squirrel or bird had fallen down the chimney and blundered into the ducts, so we called our HVAC company, which sent a technician to inspect the ducts. He didn’t find anything (except a cracked exhaust pipe from the furnace, which he replaced), and we assumed that whatever critter we’d heard had found its way out.
Until we heard it again.
Two days later, the scrabbling was back, this time upstairs. I’d gone up to make sure my computer was off before I went to bed for the night. (Our house is a duplex, a single-family that was converted into an upstairs and a downstairs apartment. We kept it as a duplex when we bought it, using the upstairs apartment as our offices and the downstairs as our living quarters.) I heard a sort of chittering noise, along with something moving around, just inside one of the vents. I went back downstairs to tell my husband what I’d heard, when a bat swooped into the bedroom.
Yeah, okay, I screamed. The thing startled me! Plus it looked bigger than the bats I see outside, with a six-foot wingspan! (Which was actually all of 10-12 inches once the bat flew out of my imagination and into the real world. Still . . .)
We left the back door open, and the bat soon found its way outside. Which was where it wanted to be, after all. But if you’ve ever had the experience of a bat zipping around your bedroom, you’ll know why we called a wildlife remediation company the next day.
They don’t kill the bats, I’m happy to report. Instead, they look for evidence of places where the bats are entering the house. They seal all the holes the find, except for one or two, where they install a valve contraption that lets the bats exit but not reenter. We signed up.
It took a couple of hours. Our house is 130 years old, and bats can squeeze through a half-inch opening, so there were lots of holes and cracks to seal. They also installed a chimney cap to keep the bats from entering that way. We breathed a sigh of relief.
The next morning, I was in my office, starting early because I was facing a big deadline on a freelance project, when I heard a light scratching noise out in the hall. I turned thinking, “Oh, no, I hope that’s not–” SWOOP! In flew a bat. I don’t know, maybe he wanted to help me make the deadline, but I ran out of the office and closed the door. An hour or so later, our handyman arrived and helped me remove it. (Okay, he removed it.) He trapped it in an empty coffee can and released it outside.
Since then, things have been quiet. No scrabbling noises in the ducts or in the walls. No more black missiles flying at my head. (Those things are fast!) But I find myself straining to listen for strange, soft noises. Noises that might be my imagination or might be . . . something else. We’re keeping all the doors closed, so that if any more get into our rooms we’ll know where they’re coming in. Whenever I open a door now, I listen, duck, and scan the room, wondering what might be hiding in the shadows.
Is it surprising that lately I’ve been feeling a hankering to write a haunted house story?