Saturday, July 31, 2010


Things I never wanted to know about bats.

1. They can fit side anything about the size of a quarter. If a mouse can fit through, so can a bat.
2. Bats only like to come out at night.
3. Moth balls don't really seem to help get rid of bats.
4. Bats live in colonies, so if there is one or two, there is more than likely several more then that.
5. Cats are awesome at killing bats.
6. If bats are living in your home, you have to figure out how they are getting in and then somehow make it so they can't come back.
7. The best way to do that is to wait until dark when they leave on their own. Then work through the night to do what you need to make it so they can't come back in. For us, that included screwing mesh around our chimney. Then a few months later when the weather cooled back down, adding a new layer of tar around the chimney.
If you are like me, a terrified house wife just trying to figure out what to do about bats, without having to look at pictures, hopefully this post will help you. I promise there is no pictures to haunt you and make it all seem worse.
In July, 2010, Josh was working his new job, which meant he was only home on the weekends. Also, I had decided to paint our bedroom. So our bedroom was tore apart and we were sleeping on our mattress, on the floor, in the spare room. Early Saturday morning (like 3 AM), I got up to go to the bathroom. As I stepped into the hall, I noticed something on the floor. Something small and black. I turned the light on, thinking the cats had killed a mouse. That is a very common occurrence in our house. What I saw freaked me out instead. It was a bat. I woke Josh up and made him take care of it right then. No, it couldn't wait until morning! Then I went back to bed and tried to not think on it.

Tuesday morning (again at 3 AM) found the same scenario, except this time I was home alone. I freaked out! I put on some gloves and used a shovel to throw the bat outside. Then I tried to go back to bed, but I couldn't sleep. Then I did something really stupid, I went online. I researched how to keep bats out of your home. What I found was lots and LOTS of pictures of attics full of bats. I did NOT need the pictures!

The whole week was a nightmare. Ally had just had her kittens, so each night I would pack her HUGE box into the bedroom and sleep with the door closed. All of the cats were up on their rabies shots except the new kittens. Poor Zipper had to sleep outside the bedroom because I was sure I had him to thank for making sure the bats were dead before I found them. If I hadn't been in the middle of painting, I think it would have been less stressful, because I could have just used the bathroom attached to our bedroom. But no! I was in the spare bedroom, which meant my small bladder was forcing me into the hallway to get to the restroom, which is were the bats usually were.

By the end of the week I was at my wits end. I was locking myself in the bedroom by 7:30 and reading myself to sleep. Then in the wee early hours I would realize my bladder could hold it no longer and I'd have to go to the bathroom. Even when there wasn't a bat in the hallway, that was only because the dead bat was instead in the front room. Bats can get through small holes. If a mouse can get in, so can a bat. So all of the doors had towels stuffed in them at the bottom, and any small hole I could find was duck taped. I even duck taped around the entire door to the attic. On Thursday night, I slept on my in-laws couch, just so I could get some sleep.

Josh bought all sorts of stuff before coming home on Friday so we could figure out how to get them out of our house and keep them out. When he got home, I sat outside, in the car, while he went upstairs to look. Sure enough, there was a few bats in the attic. He never did tell me how many and I don't want to know. All the pictures I saw online are enough to haunt me. He also would later admit to finding two dead bats a day after I found the first one. He thought it best to dispose of them and hope I never found out. That would have worked if that had been the last of them.

After walking around the yard  few times, we decided there was a few points in the roof where maybe they could get in. Because bats are night animals we had to just wait until they left before we could do anything. Just before sunset Dallon came over to help Josh. I sat in the car and watched while they each took a side of the house to watch. I saw the first one. In near hysterics, I told Josh that they were coming from near the chimney. Being the wise husband his, he knew I would just be in the way, so he sent me to his mothers. It was probably a wise idea. I didn't want to scream at a bat and cause him to fall off of the roof.

While I was at Josh's parents playing with a new cat that had followed Barb home from one of her walks, the guys watched a western while waiting for all the bats to leave and to hopefully figure out how they were getting into the living quarters of our house. We never did figure that part out. Every now and then they would go outside and shine a light at the chimney and look for eyes starring back at them. At midnight they finally thought the coast was clear.

Dallon had thrown a lasso around the chimney earlier and they used that to keep them steady up top. The only thing that fell off was one of our nicest, rechargeable flashlights. Because its a $100 flashlight, it survived. They screwed the mesh down all around the chimney, hopefully making it so the bats couldn't get back in. They finally got back to Josh's parents around 1:30 AM. Josh was tired and crashed out on the couch, so we stayed the night there.

I wish I could say that is the end of the story! Early the next morning, Josh & Dallon left to go help a neighbor with his barn. I went home and was relieved to not have an angry mob of bats waiting for me by the front door. I had dreamt two different dreams. The first was that I came home to find them circling the chimney, even thought it was daylight. The second dream was that our porch and lawn were covered in dead bats who had killed themselves trying to get in. For the first time in a long time, there were no dead bats in the house.

I missed a part of the story. Josh had heard that mothballs would help clear the bats out. So the night before, in an attempt to make them leave faster, he had thrown several bags of mothballs upstairs. It didn't help. The bats left when they were ready to. When it rains, my house still smells like mothballs.

Josh got home that afternoon and hadn't been home for long when I heard a noise and the cats suddenly became interested in a lunchbox cooler. I shot out the door without even looking back. A few minutes later Josh came out with the newly deceased bat. He went upstairs and found there were 3 more upstairs. He called them the sickly bats that didn't go out the night before. Not that they looked sickly, he was just trying to joke to calm me down.

Dallon came over with his Red Rider beebee gun. They got one of them, but the others got away. For the next two nights we didn't haven't any problems, so we thought we were done with them.

Josh went back to work on Monday morning. I was trying to be calm, but after living with that for a week, it was a lost effort. That night I had stuck with my routine of locking myself in my bedroom, with the kittens. About 9:00 PM I went across the hall to use the bathroom once more before going to bed. Just as I sat down, I heard a screech. I froze! (Apparently you can not scare crap out. It sucks back in.) Tripping over my pajama pants, I ran back to the bedroom and slammed the door shut. Then I called Josh and just bawled that there was another one! He told me to call his dad and have him come take care of it, but I couldn't because my house door was locked. How was he going to get in?

I realized that I would have to go through the house to let my father in-law in, so I might as well just leave. So I threw a bag together and carefully opened the the bedroom door and listened. After not hearing anything, I slowly crept down the hall. Zipper had just lost interest in a non moving, supposedly dead, bat. I should have thrown it out that night! But I just grabbed my keys and took off. Lucky for me, Dallon was also working out of town that week, so I was able to sleep in his bed.

The next morning I went back to take care of the cats before heading to work. The bat was gone. GONE as in where the heck did it go. The cats hadn't eaten any that we knew of, so I didn't dare hope that is what happened to this one. A few minutes later I was on the computer when I heard a squeak from near the piano. Ally made a dive for the piano, and I made a dive for the door. I watched from the window. It must have been wounded, because it didn't fly. I finally convinced myself that I could deal with a wounded bat. I went back in the house and grabbed the fireplace shovel. Ally had knocked the bat into the kitchen. Its hard to hit a bat without hitting a cat, but I got a few good whacks in. Then I took it outside and whacked it a few more times. I'm still terrified of bats, but I think that helped me. Now I'm not paralazyed with fear all of the time.
I spent each night that week at my in-laws, just to be safe. Each morning when I went back to take care of that cats, there were no new bats. When Josh got home, I made him check in the attic. No new bats. I'm happy to report that we have not seen another bat in our house since the one I killed. Although it was several weeks before I would sleep with the bedroom door open and the nightlights are still in the hallway.

I'm going to publish this post for two reasons. One, I survived this. It was by far one of the most horrible things I have ever lived through. I still question how I didn't go insane and how my husband put up with me during the time. At one point, I thought it would end our marriage. Not because we fought (because we didn't) but because I thought I would reach the point where I couldn't live there anymore. And number two: those first few days when I was trying to learn on the Internet about what to do, I just wanted ONE website to tell me what I needed to know and what I needed to do with NO pictures. I am by no means an expert on bats, and hopefully this never happens to anyone else. But if it does, I hope they can come here to learn something with NO pictures. (Do you hear that search engines? NO PICTURES!)

The bats didn't go far. A few weeks later our neighbor mentioned that they were living in his barn. I don't care as long as they aren't in my house.

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