Rob's Blog Archive

September 2, 2012

Gone Batty










I revel in the fact that in addition to being beautiful, my dogs are tough and athletic.  Friends who visit will comment on how pretty or beautiful they are, but the word ‘cute’ is noticeably absent.

Miniature animals of any type are much less interesting to me than large animals.  I have an intellectual interest in them but, most times, that’s about it.  That’s why I like rats more than guinea pigs.  Guinea pigs may be cuter but rats are a lot more responsive.  In general, I don’t do cute.

There is one notable exception to this however, I like bats.  Some combination of frailty and toughness makes me think they’re cute.  My sister says she cues on animals’ eyes.  Maybe that’s it for me and bats as well.  I know their faces are part of it.  Whatever it is, the bats I find hanging from the rafters of my garage or woodshed are cute, at least to me.

Even though bats represent a huge mammalian order, about a quarter of all mammalian species, people don’t seem to have much interest in them.  The number of bat species aside, the fact that most are voracious insectivores is a good thing in my mind.  Just like more snakes means less mice, more bats means less mosquitoes and Silly Lake is a primo mosquito pond.  Beyond this, the flight pattern that is so different from birds intrigues me.  However, since I’ve been at Silly Lake and seen them hanging around, it’s in that pose that I think they’re adorable.

All of which was a very good thing a few nights ago.  I was working on my computer, my ground state (the state to which I always decay). As I worked I became aware of a faint fluttering sound.  It sounded like my windows’ blinds in a light breeze---but there really wasn’t one.  Still, there have been times when I didn’t think there was a breeze but my blinds were lightly rattling anyway.

After some indeterminate amount of time I decided to get up and see what was going on.  Something seemed different, but I still expected to find blinds caught in a weird angle and making an unusual sound. I did feel a bit like one of Edgar Alan Poe’s characters, though. 

It took only a few seconds see what was making the noise.  I have no idea how Theodore, a silver haired bat, got into my house, but there he was fluttering around in my bedroom.  Though not even vaguely aggressive, my impression was that he wasn’t a happy bat either.  He tried repeatedly to find a way out---I imagine a sonar image of screens isn’t terribly helpful---and fail.  My guess was that stress and random flight had nearly exhausted him.  Theodore would alternate between flying around and landing on any number of things from my bed to the screen. 

Given I had no clue how he got in and that he had no clue how to get out, I went to remove one of my window screens.  I didn’t want to take any time, so when I couldn’t quickly figure out how to remove it, I simply dislodged the screening from the frame.  At least there was enough space for Theodore to get out. 

With the gap I in the screen, I tried to herd Theodore to it.  What became clear was chasing a sonar based animal around was different from chasing a visual or audio based animal around.  Trying to just stand and move didn’t work.  Gestures didn’t work.  None of the various sounds I made seemed to make a difference either.  I closed the door to my bedroom and went to get a broom.  The broom also proved useless in herding him toward the gap.  Video of all the various ways I tried to change Theodore’s flight plan so he’d find the opening would have been a You-Tube hit.

Finally, he landed on my pillow.  Slowly and gently, I took the pillow to the gap.  Maybe it was fatigue, maybe an instinct that I was not a threat, or maybe some bat thing I can’t imagine, but Theodore didn’t let go.  I pushed the pillow through the gap.  Theodore still there, I turned it over and shook it---he was free.  

The next morning, as I was watering the dogs, Jake turned to me and said, “Dad, I heard the weirdest thing last night.  It seemed like somebody right next to your bedroom window was talking.  He had a very high pitched voice and it seemed to be getting softer like he was moving away---I could just barely make it out.  I heard ‘Woooh’ like he fell or something then  ‘Thank you!’ before his voice became too faint.”

“Hmm, I guess I don’t always offend the local wildlife.”

“What, dad?”

“Never mind, Jake.”    

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