Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bats (and Cats)

I have forgotten to tell you about the bat. I was reminded because this morning it was back again. Several weeks ago there was a bat outside the front door of our office. It wasn't bothering anyone, just hanging out. Eventually it was thought best to shoo it away. But this morning it, or another one, was back in the same area.

I don't mind bats, and I know that they are very helpful to have around to control the mosquito population, for one thing. But I've also read that if you see a bat under unusual conditions, it's got a considerably higher than normal chance of having rabies. The Centers for Disease Control web page about rabies notes, after commenting on all the reasons to be tolerant of bats:
However, any bat that is active by day, is found in a place where bats are not usually seen (for example, in a room in your home or on the lawn), or is unable to fly, is far more likely than others to be rabid. Such bats are often the most easily approached. Therefore, it is best never to handle any bat.

I don't care for bats when they are flying at me. In my first few months of living in Northfield, I once found myself shut into a basement laundry room with several bats circling me. I shut the door after the first bat I saw flew out into the larger basement. I thought I was now safe, only to find at least a couple more still inside with me. Eeek. After I got myself out of there, I called my mother in California to tell her, and she said, "But Pen, bats are so interesting! (See where I get it?)

Another time I was alone at work at my desk in an old building on a college campus. After I'd been there quite a while, an odd bit of color caught my eye, and it turned out that a small bat was quietly hanging on the short filing cabinet next to my desk. As in, about two feet away from my right arm. The poor thing was dead under an office chair the next day, and I carefully and discreetly buried it in a flower bed outside.

While looking just now for the photos I'd taken of the bat the first day we saw it, I came across this photo of our two cats, Callie and Jeeves, earlier this summer. They are undoubtedly watching either a bird or a squirrel, as they are looking so attentively through the screen toward the area right under our bird feeders. I like the similarity of their posture as they watch whatever it is. Hey, cats rhymes with bats. Good enough for me.


Mary S. said...

We had a bat in our old house, back when Anna was a baby. The bat was swooping over our bed repeatedly, even though the light was on in the room. After shutting the door to the baby's room, we donned hats and tried to lure the bat outside. That did not work, so we brought it down with a tennis racket and a broom -- not one of our most dignified moments. I felt a little bad we could not catch and release it, but that was beyond our skill level at the time.

Jim H. said...

Many bat stories from our old house in Minneapolis. Too many to recount. Suffice it to say that we became unwitting bat experts and we are very glad that our Northfield house doesn't have these pestguests.

On an intellectual level, bats are useful. On a visceral level, I still hate 'em.

My father-in-law, a tall rangy gentle Norwegian, used a deftly-wielded badminton raquet to stun the bats in his house, then release them outside. He was like Stan Smith or Arthur Ashe.

Jim H. said...

John Lennon's cat was named Elvis. Winston Churchill's cat was named Beelzebub. Samuel Johnson had a cat named Hodge, of whom he said "I have had cats whom I liked better than this, but he is a very fine cat."

dAwN said...

Bats and Cats....yes Halloween is just around the corner.tee hee
I do love to see bats...I know they are catching some of those darn mosquitoes...

RuthieJ said...

Bats are one of the most misunderstood mammals. Thanks for sharing this information Penny. It's good for people to learn about the good things bats do instead of being scared of them.