Friday, July 24, 2009

Bats, bats, and more bats

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.)


Dedalus1947 said...

Holy shit!... I mean Guano!

As a native-born and bred Los Angeles chicano, I can't even imagine what you are describing. Bats sleeping in your coffee cup! Holy Robin, the vampires are in my kitchen!

I'm exaggerating, but I can't comprehend. I've really led a deprived childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and retirement - I've never confronted a vampire - er, bat, face to face.

I'm pleased to know that they are as common as, rats?. (Say it ain't so!). Well good luck, and you have given me a new perspective on bats.

lakshmi said...


You've got the right of it, there. Holy Guano, indeed.

No news on how soon we board it all up yet so we're still finding flying critters all over the place. Apparently, only the older ones are dying. The breeding season is just too much for them, I guess.

Bats aren't too bad, really. They're kind of cute--in a creepy, flying rodent sort of way. I much prefer them to rats.

I'm glad you stopped by to read my bat story and I hope LA is treating you kindly.


White Eagle said...

Great stuff, Lakshmi!

I know these littel buggers from my Midwestern youth; I rarely see a bat in San Francisco.

I camp whenever I can in the high Sierra. Wingspans of a foot! I swear one carries off my beer at the edge of campfire light last year.

I had to wrap a scarf around my neck to get any sleep. Something primal, archetypal, about these creatures.

But you have to love them, eh?

John Rouleau

kathryn said...

Luis would love this. He loves bats. You should post it at the Cabin.

I loved how tenderly you described the creepy creatures. I had a bats in the rafters experience in South America once. And I am sure they were vampire bats. Poor cows!

lakshmi said...

John! That's incredible! I would pay good money to see a bat with that kind of wingspan.

Hi Kathryn!
If I ever get back to the Cabin, maybe I'll bring this over--but my work-life became very urgent all of a sudden and 'poof!' there went my Cabin time. It will clear up eventually. I think. Until then--I still like to keep my toes in the water posting little stories here.

Keep well!

Feral Female said...


I'm a 20 year old young adult, and I am not pregnant, heck I don't even have a boyfriend, but I stumbled upon a video of child birth that I saw on youtube, it was one of the most horrendous videos, I saw blood oozing out, and then from the point of view of the midwife, I saw her use a pair of scissors to cut the mother so that the baby would finally exit the womb, she seemed to push but to no avail before that and then I became scared. I was scared that that could be me, so I googled births, and then I remembered watching a documentary about pregnant teenagers and one had a water birth, I had heard that it causes less pain, so I googled water births and I came across an article you wrote on, I was so thrilled to read your article.

Thanks for sharing it with me.

Hope all the best for your children, your husband and family.

I can now sleep at night again :D :D

lakshmi said...

Hi there!

I'm so glad you found me in my 'Bat-cave.' :>

What you describe is one of the essential reasons I wrote my book on waterbirth. I felt women needed to know there is another option out there that is natural, less painful, and a very gentle way to bring a baby into this world.

If you ever get a boyfriend or husband and get pregnant, please feel free to contact me and I'll tell you everything I know.

Thanks for this note. It makes me happy to think I have helped you to sleep at night.

Best Wishes,