bat being held by a gloved wildlife biologist

One Batty Night

I felt a nudge. “Hey, wake up!”

It was my husband, Bert.
“Something’s flying around in here!”
Here was our bedroom. Something was a bat.

The bat crisscrossed the room erratically. I opened windows and removed screens. No luck—the bat continued its frenetic flying. Bert ran for the long-reach net we use in our swimming pool. I took some video with my phone.

Here’s a short, slow-motion clip. It’s not the best video, but you’ll get a good sense of what I saw.

The creature probably had a sweet little face like the one in the photo heading this post. That picture was taken by wildlife biologist ErinAdventure. Her photo is of a big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus. I can’t be certain that was the exact species in our bedroom, but it’s a common bat in Michigan. Judging by our visitor’s wingspan, it’s the most likely candidate.

Bert returned with the net. The bat continued flitting around until, presumably exhausted, it landed high on a wall. Bert positioned the net over the bat. With a gentle flip, he folded the net over itself and stuck it out the window. He reversed the flip, and the bat flew safely away.

Bert checked the attic the next morning and found lots of droppings. Did you know that unlike rodent droppings, bat poop sparkles when you crush it? The guano glitter comes from bits of undigested insect exoskeletons. There was no mistaking: We have bats in the attic. Fortunately, we store seldom-used items, like Christmas decorations, elsewhere.

A wildlife-removal technician soon confirmed Bert’s attic find. He told us that bats need only a 3/8-inch opening to squeeze through. They typically find that space under a roof’s ridge vents, which can warp over time. So, earlier this week, the tech sealed a myriad of tiny openings on our home’s exterior and placed mesh barriers on the vents.

He also installed a one-way bat door, the long black tube you see in the photo below. Bats seeking food will find their way out of the attic through the tube. Unable to come back in, they will roost elsewhere.

The woods surrounding our home offer tons of tree cavities suited for bats. In late spring, a wildlife-removal tech will inspect the attic. When he’s sure all our guests have left, he will clean and sanitize it.

After years of watching and filming wildlife, I was more fascinated than frightened by the bat circling my bedroom. Even so, bats do bring a small risk of rabies. The National Park Service says less than 1% of bats have the disease, but it’s best to be cautious. We were fortunate to have just the equipment—meaning our long-reach net—to remove the bat without harming the animal or ourselves.

Resources and a Related Kids’ Book Recommendation

Here’s a fun web article by the National Park Service. It’s about bat myths, part of a larger series about these fascinating creatures.

For more bat photos by ErinAdventure, look at her Flickr page. Like me, she gives permission to use her photos under a Creative Commons license.

If any of our Michigan friends have or suspect they might have bats in the attic, Bert and I highly recommend Platinum Wildlife Removal. Ray, the technician who bat-proofed our house, was terrific.

And now the best part: A kids’ book recommendation.

The Bat Book, written and illustrated by Charlotte Milner, is a great choice. It’s part of the Conservation for Kids series published by DK Children. Recommended for kids 5-8, the book is fact-filled and sure to keep kids’ attention as they browse through its pages. Did you know there are ‘microbats’ and ‘megabats?’ Or that some bats sing like songbirds? I didn’t know, either!

Image Credits: ErinAdventure.

12 thoughts on “One Batty Night”

  1. My first night of staying in my new apartment in a tiny Appalachian town, when I began working as a teacher, has a similar story, only my roommate and I called the sheriff’s office. They sent a deputy and helpfully removed our flappy visitor. I’m pretty sure we two city girls were the subject of a great story and much laughter for everyone in town, later.

    1. Ginny, you’re probably right about the town laughter. It’s great that all these years later, you can laugh about it, too!

  2. Wow! I enjoyed reading this – in the summer when Dave and I walk at dusk the bats are swooping and fun to watch. We had a bat in our house once when our kids were all still at home – it was pretty cool, and the uproar gave us a good story for years to come. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It was a cool experience. Having a bunch of the in the attic—not so cool, but at least there’s a humane way to get them out.

  3. Oh my stars! So good that you had the equipment and ability to capture and release it safely. I would have panicked — I’m impressed how you both reacted. Didn’t know that about bat droppings. Definitely include that detail if you write a book!

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