Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Little Noise

Last night, my husband and I heard an odd little noise coming from our basement. He went down to investigate, but found nothing. A short while later, I went back into the basement and pinpointed where the small, almost electric noise was coming from: the rafters. Worried that it was an electrical problem (and quickly formulating a plan to take the kids over to my parents' house, as the last thing I needed was for the wiring to go goofy and start a fire), I brought my husband downstairs to take a look, flashlight in hand.

That's when he realized what it was: a bat. Somehow, this little thing had gotten wedged up into the boards on the ceiling and was squealing away at us. I was a bit torn. I couldn't bring myself to order my husband to kill it (nor would I think that he would have). I've always thought that bats are cute. They're also beneficial to the environment, and, most importantly, they are living, breathing mammals that do nothing wrong other than exist. All this Dracula crap has given them a bad rap. That being said, bats are known to carry rabies, and with two small children and a cat in the house, I couldn't in good conscience do nothing. Under normal conditions, I would have said, "Oh, how sweet, we have a bat living with us!" and let our guest stay the winter, as I hate kicking things out in the cold, but if there was the chance of a disease, I couldn't risk exposing my kids to it. My husband didn't want to play liberator because he didn't want to chance being bitten and having to go to the hospital for a series of rabies shots -- can't say that I blame him. We were stuck between a rock and a hard place (aka my rafter).

So, we approached it the mature way: we moved the cat's litter box upstairs, left the lights on (to give the little guy or girl the idea that this was NOT where he or she wanted to be), and then closed the basement door, blocking it with a blanket and opting to call the manager of our complex to come to the townhouse to have someone remove it without killing it. I was worried that we were torturing the poor thing with the light, but my husband assured me that we were doing the right thing, as it would have been far more cruel to not give him or her incentive to leave (especially if stuck). We then worried that the bat was stuck, and would possibly starve to death. Then my husband let me in on a little tid bit: this is the season that bats nest. This changed the game for me considerably. It's one thing to have a singular animal die; it's something different to have a pregnant mother die. It somehow seems worse. I went to sleep with a heavy heart, hoping that things would be better in the morning.

Jeremy checked in our guest that morning. The bat wasn't moving. He banged on the boards and put the flashlight on it. Nothing. The outlook didn't look good. I held out hope that it was just sleeping. Jeremy stayed home while our nanny watched the kids so that he could wrangle everything. The exterminator gave us a double dose of good news: not only was the bat alive, but he couldn't kill it (apparently, humane societies like bats to be saved because they're so good for the environment). In fact, our bat was actually two bats -- we had a mating pair staying with us, building their nest for the arrival of babies in the spring. According to the exterminator, we had two good things going for us: 1.) we had caught this in time, as we would have had a slew of problems if we had discovered this in a few months (such as insect infestation and multiple bats flying in and out of the house, and taking them out would have resulted in a crew having to rip out the entire rafter section of our basement), and 2.) it was just the two, not an entire roost. We simply had a happy couple that decided that our townhouse basement would be a great place to start a family. It sounds cheesy, but it's a parallel for how our friends have defined our home: warm and caring. It's nice to see that the animal kingdom thinks so as well.

In the end, the exterminator quickly removed the two bats (who apparently squealed like crazy when disturbed) and took them away. I feel much better knowing that they're going someplace safe and warm to wait out the winter and build their nest. It's nice to know that they won't be taken away to be killed, but that they and their babies will get to thrive. No, we didn't kill them. And I'm damn proud of that. So ends the Saga of the Bat.

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