light night flight

Last night after 1:00 a.m. I was rudely awakened by a home invader.

Well, actually, it was my trusty watchdog Coco who awakened me by barking and lunging at the window from the bed. As I was already fast asleep, the commotion entered my dream state, and gradually caused the dream to merge into a groggy misperception of the invasion as something else. The window was rattling like crazy in its frame, and I thought it had been blown partially open by the wind, and that I could solve the problem by locking it securely.

I scolded Coco for waking me up over nothing, went over and pulled up the blind, thus exposing the invader, which turned out to be a brown bat that had gotten inside the space between the window and the screen/storm window unit. The bat was already in a panic state, but when I opened the blind it went absolutely nuts, as did Coco, who barked furiously at the glass, thus escalating the panic.

I realized that being half asleep would not do, as the situation would require thinking before acting. So I took Coco by the collar and dragged her out of the room, shutting the door behind me. It's not every night that I deal with a trapped bat (the last time was in 1971, when I "defended" myself with a tennis racket), and I thought this might present an interesting photo opportunity. So I went downstairs, got my camera, and after looking around for a net, decided that a towel would work best if it came to that. I went back upstairs (closing the door to ensure Coco couldn't get in), turned on the room light, and the bat went into full panic mode, eventually cornering itself in the top left corner of the window space. When I pointed my camera in there with the flash on and pressed the shutter to focus, the camera emitted the tiny red sensing light, which made the bat look directly at it, in a clearly defensive posture, while opening and closing its mouth to show its little teeth.

Unfortunately, the camera didn't catch the teeth, and the pictures are poor quality as I have problems focusing through panes of glass. But you can still see the bat:


As I thought about catching the bat, I realized that opening the window might do more harm than good, as the bat would most likely enter the room, and then I'd be driving myself crazy trying to net a flying object with a towel, and even if I succeeded, I might not get back to sleep for a long time. And if the bat went under the bed (or deep inside the long, skinny, disorganized closet), I'd really be screwed. (There's plenty of advice on the Internet on how to deal with bats -- this guy recommends trapping them with Frisbees -- but I really didn't want to turn on my computer and get online.)

The bat hated the camera flash, though, and I knew it had gotten into that space somehow. So I kept "shooting," and the bat became more and more desperate to escape. Finally, it found the small crack it had obviously used to enter, which was located between the top of the screen and the bottom of the raised storm window, and it was gone.

Hopefully forever.

While I'm not 100% positive, I think last night's invader was a Little Brown Bat -- the Latin name for which is Myotis lucifugus.

Interestingly, "lucifugus" means "light-fleeing," so my little nocturnal invader seems to have lived up to its name!

posted by Eric on 05.28.09 at 10:44 AM


Neat trick to get rid of the bat.

So, now that you know you got bats in the neighborhood, put up some bat houses so they're not so inclined to look to yours for shelter.

I see them in warmer weather all the time in South Philly.

Eric Blair   ·  May 28, 2009 11:16 AM

I hear they eat mosquitoes, so while I'm not hoping they come to stay, I hope they come by for a late night snack.

Donna B.   ·  May 28, 2009 5:21 PM

With each story you tell, eric, I come to love your ever vigilant sidekick more and more. GOOD GIRL, Coco!

Penny   ·  May 28, 2009 9:33 PM

Good advice all. Penny, I've passed your compliment on to Coco. So far, the bat has not been back.

Eric Scheie   ·  May 29, 2009 9:33 AM

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