These days I always check my office first thing for bats. There was the one on Monday hanging over my door jamb. Sound asleep and tiny as a field mouse, he was sleeping off whatever fun he'd had the night before. On Tuesday there was one in the hall, nestled in a corner of the slate, nose to the crack. I would guess, like some of the humans in this building, he was pretending he wasn't there. On Wednesday, I was bat-free, but there were three in the office down the hall and on Thursday, I spun in my chair and almost stepped on the fallen rodent, who was looking at me with baleful, sleepy eyes—like tiny black beads—as if I was at fault for disturbing his sleep.
Our Purchaser called the exterminator, who came out to investigate the problem. They poked about in rafters and ceilings and discovered there is an inch of guano (odorous bat-poo) adding extra insulation to our ceiling. Based on this, it was decided we have a bat-infestation.
You can’t kill bats in Virginia, they are a protected form of wildlife. I personally have nothing against them. They eat mosquitoes and other nasty flying bugs, of which we are abundant, and dart and dive through the dusk-hued sky. I love to watch them as they send out their radar beams and pick up the trail of bugs through sound. Their flight is so erratic, you’re often sure they are going to fly right into your face, but they swoop off at the last moment, lifting the hair from your brow with the wind of their wings.
On Friday I got the best bat yet. He was nestled in my coffee-cup, little fingers latched onto the edge. I wondered if he was trying to wrest one more flight from the evening by sucking up the last drips from my mug. All in all, he was the easiest to take outside. I placed a request for employment verification over the top, pressed gently with my hand, and carried him out the door.
I always wish them well as they look groggily up at me when I tip them into the bushes. Their six-inch wing-span has a fine-meshed, lacy pattern. They hobble and hop away, screeching quietly. I can tell from their complaints they don’t like me very much.
Toward the end of the week, our expert had hatched a plan. As it would happen, we’re in the middle of breeding season. Those bats in my office, including the coffee-drinker, weren’t boy bats at all. They were the female bats, apparently worn out from breeding, they were too tired to search for a proper place to sleep. During this most exciting time of the year, they get a little nutty. They squeeze into our halls at night through an opening as small as a ¾ inch gap and have free-breeding parties. The Purchaser is not amused. He is the one the local sheriff’s office calls when the breeding-bats set off the alarm system. He's shown up dozens of times, riffle and flash-light in hand but, the bats? They’re not impressed.
We can do nothing until the season is over. With breeding comes babies which are now inhabiting our attic in tiny, squeaking droves. Our eventual solution will be to clean out the guano and board up all the holes to keep all future bats from nesting in our building. We can’t do that until the young ones have grown and gone. For the time-being all we are left with is coming in each morning knowing for certain there will be bats both above and below.
(Author's Note: My Lady bat in the coffee cup was imaginary, coming from the rafters of my brain as opposed to my office. The dirty coffee cup, however, is oh-so-real.)