I once had bats in my belfry. Certain members of my family will declare I still do, but that’s an entirely different matter. The time I’m speaking of I literally had bats, well not in my belfry, for sadly my home had no belfry, but the nasty little critters took up residence in the walls of my house. The exterior wall next to my bed to be precise!
I was first alerted by a rustling sound coming from the wall next to my bed while snuggled under my comforter awaiting sleep to overtake me. I felt little concern that night, thinking it was a field mouse, as this happens occasionally when one lives in the country and there are several easy ways to deal with them. I learned the error of my thinking the next evening when I was waiting on my front porch for my dog to come in for his supper and saw first one and then several bats emerge from above the frame of my bedroom window. My disbelief was swiftly followed by a whirl of horrified thoughts. My mind was swooping rapidly, much like the small flying rodents. Yikes!
Being recently widowed I didn’t have my knight in shining armour who had kept me safe from such scary things for so many years and I felt panic building in my chest. Taking deep calming breaths I called the dog in and convinced myself there had to be a reasonable solution and I would find it come morning. My logic didn’t help during that long sleepless night as I listened for the soft scrambling sounds in the wall. Oh how I would have welcomed a family of field mice, with their bright little eyes and twitchy whiskers instead of the visual of nasty sharp toothed, rabies carry bats.
The next morning, in spite of little rest I approached the dilemma with firm resolve. I called a local exterminator. Perfect answer, right? Nope, I was told bats are a protected species so they can not dispose of them. So I politely thanked the woman on the phone and hung up. Okay on to step two. After much consideration I looked up the number for the local government office of Wildlife Management. I smiled as I dialed it, feeling proud of myself for having the idea of going straight to the top of the “bat protection bureau”. A pleasant voiced young woman answered and I explain my problem with the naive expectation of hearing they will send someone to the rescue A.S.A.P. Superbatman!! Here he comes to save the day! Well no, she explains it doesn’t work that way. But they are your protected bats, I reply. No we are mandated by law to protect them for the people of the state as all wild life is a resource of the state and thus of the people. I absorb this info. Okay I say slowly, but what if I don’t want to share my house with my share of this valuable resource is my next question. She cheerfully informs me she has some suggestions that I might find very helpful. First don’t leave any water outside because it attracts insects which are bats food source. I gaze out my window at the sun sparkled river that runs about two hundred yards from my back door as I start a list. I put a large question mark after “no water”. Suggestion number two, don’t leave lights on at night as this also attracts insects. I list “live in the dark” with another question mark. The last item is, soak clothe, (she suggests bed sheets) in vinegar and hang them from the eaves of the house because bats don’t like the smell. I’m getting a mental picture of my house draped in bed linen as I jot this down. She wishes me good luck and says she is happy she could be of service. I think I may have mumbled some sort of thank you but am not sure as things get a bit fuzzy about this time. I allowed myself to shed a few tears that soon turned into soft laughter, that threatened to become hysterical.
I know we’ve all had those times when running away is such a tempting thought. I fantasized about white sand beaches and palm huts for a brief few minutes, but unless I could teleport magically I was out of luck. So I got a ladder and went to investigate the bats entrance/exit above the window. The width of the crack they were using was minimal. The tip of my pinkie barely fit in the space. Okay I thought it could be sealed up with caulking but would have to be done after dark when hopefully all the bats were out feeding on flying insects. As I stood weak kneed on the ladder, gripping the window ledge with one hand I faced reality. I was kidding myself if I thought for one second that I could get the job done in the dark and what if one of those devil rats flew out in my face!
Back in the house I alternated between pacing and sitting. I even looked at the list of hints from my friendly tax payer supported managers of all things wild. I tried to calculate how many sheets it would take to go round the eaves of my house and how many gallons of vinegar to soak them all. I felt bubbles of hysterical laughter building deep in my core once again. Then it happened, that almost magical function the human brain is capable of at the most unexpected times. It is like the light bulb of comics coming on over ones head but on a dimmer switch. The light gradually grew brighter as an old bit of conversation struggled to surface. Someones kid brother worked for a guy humanely trapping pesky varmints from populated areas and relocating them to safer places. Could bats be caught and moved? Who had told me about their brother? More pacing ensued as I struggled to remember the person’s name. Then my eyes fell on the phone book I had left on the table. Simple ideas are often the best, so I let my fingers do the walking through the yellow pages and found a heading for pest trapping.
“Yes ma’am we can take care of bat infestations”, was the beautiful answer to my inquiry. Then he explained his wizardry, gave me a cost estimate (not cheap this ridding of bats) and we agreed on a time. So there is a Superbatman who rides in to save the day in a brown Ford pick-up with a spray bottle of magic potion, PEPPERMINT OIL. He sprayed it in the small crevice and bravely dodged the bats as they flew out to escape the pungent liquid. He inspected the whole exterior and sprayed any areas he felt could be a problem then sealed every small space were they possibly could enter again. Aww, my hero!!!!
An extra benefit, the house had a fresh peppermint aroma for the next two or three months.