Bat stories

22 Jun

22 June 2020.

As physical wandering (girovaga means wanderer in Italian) is limited for now, our adventures are at home. A recent discovery led my mind to wander to one of our stories from Rome as yet untold in this blog.

It involved a bat.

Rome’s mosquitoes created huge itchy welts that lasted for days.

Window screens are a rarity in Italian homes, something I had difficulty understanding since Rome had vicious mosquitoes — Asian Tiger mosquitoes —  that make the Minnesota bloodsuckers I grew up with look benign. The site of a bite would swell up and itch furiously for days. But I digress.

Our Embassy-provided apartment had A/C and we used it liberally to aid in our sleep during steamy, mosquito-ridden summers. In shoulder season the fine weather was inviting enough — and mostly bug-free — to fling wide the windows and sleep with the ceiling fan caressing our bodies.

One fine night we awoke in the wee hours to see the cats engaged in apparently watching a tennis match: eyes right – eyes left – eyes right – eyes left, the distinct movement of following potential prey. “This can’t be good,” we said simultaneously and flicked on a light. What caught the girls’ attention was a bat flitting back and forth across the room! Ric ran out and to fetch a broom while the cats continued their eyes left/eyes right routine.

My hero took a swipe at the pipistrello (this incident improved my Italian vocabulary) with the broom, the bat dodged, made direct contact with the ceiling fan, hitting the blade which knocked it into a wastebasket in the corner. Nothing but net! I grabbed the wastebasket and flung the contents (only the bat as luck would have it, no dirty tissues) into the street four floors below, then slammed the window shut.

Not much sleep for any of us the rest of that short night.

This tale came to mind last week when we had some HVAC maintenance done and the technician reported signs of mice in the attic. I made a quick call to a pest control specialist who opined it was bats, that “everybody in your area has bat problems.” Great, His field visit indeed revealed bats in the attic, and way more than one, hanging from the rafters wiggling in their sleep. And lots of guano.

This is most likely the squatter in our attic. Not really dangerous to humans, it weighs 1/2 ounce but has a 6″-9″ wingspan!

Luckily for us, the attic is shut off from the house and only accessible through a panel in the ceiling of the garage. (Also accessible through some pin-dot of a hole as bats can get in through a quarter-inch opening.) Unluckily we cannot do a damn thing about them until September. They are protected under Oregon Law and must not be disturbed during the summer maternity season. They may never be killed. Big fine for poisoning or trapping.

A bat extraction specialist will need to be hired in September when the holes can be closed and a one-way, exit-only, no return valve can be placed so these insect-eating marvels can go out to feed but not return to roost.

We are exploring putting up a bat house so they can continue to live in our area, but far enough away from us that the guano won’t be a problem.

More bat stories later this year, no doubt!

15 Responses to “Bat stories”

  1. Holly James June 23, 2020 at 17:02 #

    I wouldn’t wait until September! Pay the fine and get a pest fogger! LOL


    • Laurel June 23, 2020 at 18:02 #

      At $5500 per bat (according to the pest control guy) I think waiting is indeed in order, Holly.


  2. chloe erkenbrecher June 23, 2020 at 06:33 #

    It seems to me that bats are twice as big in Europe as they are here, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re far too big here. We have screens on most of our windows in France, but that’s mainly to keep out flies and mosquitoes. We don’t have to worry about any of them this year.


    • Laurel June 23, 2020 at 18:01 #

      I would not mind being in Europe right now if my only worry was insects.

      The bats are fine as long as they don’t inhabit my house!


  3. Kim Freed June 23, 2020 at 05:25 #

    What a great story! Loved reading it. You are such a terrific writer. Miss you both.

    Sent from my iPhone



    • Laurel June 23, 2020 at 18:00 #

      Thanks, Kim! Miss you too! We were supposed to be hooking up with you about now. Maybe next spring?


  4. graciamc June 22, 2020 at 18:23 #

    Yikes! I hope I never can top either of those bat stories!


    • Laurel June 23, 2020 at 17:59 #

      Hope you continue to have a bat free life!


  5. Janet June 22, 2020 at 13:48 #

    How you can make a bat story entertaining and riveting is truly a gift!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jane Norton June 22, 2020 at 12:20 #

    Yikes!!!! Our neighbor had the same problem—discovered when his wife began itching due to their upstairs bedroom’s proximity to the attic. He hired the Colorado “bat man” who guaranteed his work for a full year. But…they came back and so did “bat man” to remedy the problem again….yeeks


    • Laurel June 22, 2020 at 13:16 #

      Hoping no repeats! Especially since we will provide them with a condo.


  7. Claudia H Moore June 22, 2020 at 10:57 #

    I don’t mean to one-up you, but it is rare that I’m able to share an Italian pipistrello story–but I’ve got one, too. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

    In May 2008 we were in Italy on vacation and I broke my foot and was in a partial cast, with strict instructions not to put one scintilla of weight on the foot for four full weeks. I was just a day out of the hospital, set up in my own space/bed to prop up my newly-operated-on foot.

    I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning, windows open with sun and breeze coming into the room—mamma mia, it was a day to behold. I grabbed the interesting book I was reading from the night before, and could look up to see Mt. Amiata out the window when moved to do so. Really lovely.

    The breeze was cool enough to need the warm blanket I had been sleeping under all night.

    A movement on top of the blanket, on top of my stomach caught my eye—OMG—it was a spider walking on my belly about 2″ in diameter. Totally freaked, I grabbed a tissue, closed my eyes, grabbed it, squashed it, and flung the whole thing to the floor. Not quite shrieking, but still “Oh my godding….!!!”….it began to occur to me that where there was one spider there could be more. The blanket was on top of me–I was still “snug as a bug” myself. So, still lying down (with the casted foot propped up on pillows under the blanket), I used my right hand to begin to open up the blanket to check it out. I held the corner and lifted it back, and what did I find inside the blanket NEXT TO my body?????!!!!!! Un PIPISTRELLO!!!!

    A bat, a fuzzy, furry, mammal BAT was sleeping under the blanket NEXT TO ME!!!!!!!!!

    I do not know how I did it, but without crutches I was in the next room in less than 5 seconds, shrieking at the top of my voice, yelling at Gary to close the door behind me, and go in there, and kill the bat!!!!

    He went in there, closed the door, shook the blanket, and the bat began to swoop all over the room—with a 15” (at least!!!!) wingspan. He came out of the room, wishing he had a tennis racket to urge the precious animal out of the window—and remembered that there was a rattan rug beater in the kitchen.

    When he returned to the bedroom, the bat was gone.


    • Laurel June 22, 2020 at 13:18 #

      What a great story, Claudia! Under the covers, mannaggia! And still you moved to Tuscany. Do you have screens on your house now?


      • Claudia H Moore June 22, 2020 at 13:55 #

        All of the above happened in the house where we live, but before we had made the move–it was a vacation, but our last vacation before moving to Tuscany. We told them that we had to have screens when we returned later in the summer to live there permanently. And they had them installed, ready to go, when we moved in. NO WAY would I live in a place without screens, esp after that experience.

        I often wonder how many hours that bat had been nestled up to me sleeping. Egads!

        Liked by 1 person

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