Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bats In My Belfry - Part Deux

or, Bow Down To Chester The Ninja Cat

There seems to be a connection between my fear of bats and the houses I've lived in. No matter what house I've ever lived in, there's been an invasion of at least one bat in each. So I shouldn't have been surprised  of yet another invasion of bats in the house I moved into in 2010.  Yes, bats, as in more than one.  Four to be exact.

The first two were in the spare bedroom, my girlfriend and her son caught the first one while I hid in the kitchen and almost wet myself.  We hired the local bat guy to catch the second one. The modern era of specialization has caught up to the exterminating business, as bats are a protected animal in Illinois, so no regular exterminator will deal with them. So we had to hire a wild animal specialist to remove the bat, and it cost $57. He took the bat out into the country and released it.  I didn't have to deal with it so it was money well spent.

The third bat escapade happened one night at about eleven o'clock as we watched an old rerun of the sitcom Frasier.  No lights were on, and we saw the bat flitting in the light of the television.  The light was immediately turned on, my girlfriend got off the love seat and grabbed a broom. I sat petrified on the love seat. But the fear quickly turned into anger. I mean, come on. Three bats within a year or so? What the hell was going on? We couldn't see the bat, so my girlfriend went upstairs to see if she could find it.  I proceeded to go outside and get another broom. Enough was enough, my anger outweighed my fear and I was determined to catch the little bastard!

When the bat came back into the living room, I began to take swats it it with the broom. The broom broke, I took the one my girlfriend had and found out real quick that when a bat is flying right at you, there's not much of a chance to swat and hit him because of his sonar. But it doesn't work nearly as well for the bat if you get behind it, and with more of a push than a swat, I knocked his furry butt out of the air and onto the floor. I put the broom on it, got him scooped up with a butterfly net and took it outside. My first bat catch! I was shaking like I was standing in a tub of ice water. Who would have ever thought I'd be able to conquer my fear enough to capture one of the devils?

Now it was time to investigate further, to try and figure out where in the hell the critters were coming in at.  After a search of the possibilities in the basement, we found the entrance! We had a new furnace installed when we bought the house, the guy that installed it neglected to cap off a damper in the chimney. I hadn't noticed the damper right off, for it appeared as if it was a solid piece of metal inside. But just the slightest touch of my finger opened the damper (as would the force of the exhaust from the old furnace). So the resourceful bats were coming down the chimney (which has no screen or cap on it) , tipping the damper open and letting themselves in.  A quick wrapping of the damper opening with screen and a temporary wrapping of duct tape would keep the damper closed and the bats out until a more permanent fix could be done. Phew! Problem solved, breathe easy, sleep peacefully again!  Unfortunately, humans can sometimes be forgetful. As I've professed to be nothing more or less than human, I acted the part.  The permanent fix was not forthcoming, and the temporary fix of the entrance to the bat no-tell-hotel came back to haunt me.

The fourth Close Encounter Of The Flying Rodent Kind came at about 4:00 in the morning. The teenage boy that lives in the same house as me was awakened by the sound of caterwauling mixed with chirps coming from his doorway. When he rolled over and looked, he saw Chester (one of the three cats that allow the rest of us to live in the house) with a bat on the floor in front of him! Chester had crippled the bat so that it could no longer fly and after some finagling (with Chester helping out immensely) we got the bat in a box and took it outside. I turned the bat over to animal control to have it checked for rabies. We hadn't found any bites on Chester, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Turns out the bat squeezed open the damper just enough to get through, then wiggled the screen open enough to get out. Chester caught it when it was wiggling through the screen or some other means. He even could have caught the critter like this cat did:

Chester has a sweet disposition until something enters his territory. Then he can turn bad ass in a hurry, as the bat found out.  The bat turned out not to be rabid, so Chester was fine. He's my hero, that's for sure, and gets his share of kitty treats to prove it.

I have since put a metal cap over the damper hole in the chimney, will have a screen installed over the opening outside this fall, and I've got some mortar mix to put over the cap just to make sure.  And I sure hope the bat situation has been eliminated. But Chester remains on guard, no matter what. He's here, he's there, he's everywhere, Chester The Ninja Cat...

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