Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What Goes There?

One night several weeks before Christmas, my wife and I were lying in bed about to fall asleep. Suddenly, a scratchy running noise echoed through the heating ducts above our heads in the bedroom ceiling. Back and forth, there was definitely an animal in our duct.
We looked at each other unsure what to do. What was this thing in our ceiling? A rat? A mouse? A squirrel? Then, it crawled over into our wall, continuing to make scratching noises so we had no problem knowing where it was at. Over in the wall it crawled, and down the wall towards the floor. Finally, it seemed to stop to take a rest, and we, knowing there was nothing we could do, went to sleep ourselves, knowing we shared our house with something. "Let's hope it doesn't land on our faces in our sleep," I said. My wife was not amused.
The next morning, we called our management company to get an exterminator recommendation. We did not, however, hear any signs of the animal in the morning. Were we dreaming things? Not if we both remembered it, we guessed. I called Smithereen, and there was a fee just for them to come out. Since we hadn't heard the animal, we decided to hold off; we figured it had made its way back outside. We hoped it hadn't instead begun hibernation in our wall. A few quiet days went by, and we had forgotten our late night friend. Then, one night, right where the sounds had disappeared before, a scratching noise began. Right at twilight. There was no doubt our friend was back. Maybe he hadn't left?
I called and scheduled an appointment to have our critter checked out. Since we live on the top floor of a three-flat, the exterminator fellow said he suspected a squirrel over mice or rats as those usually are on the first floor. The following several days, every night at twilight, the same scratching began. It seemed we had a permanent guest-in-residence.
The next week, our pest removal expert arrived. Of course, our little friend was not making any noise. I got the feeling he began to doubt our story. "Are you sure you heard something that had to be alive?" he asked. We went up to the roof to check for access points. Of course, there were none to be found. "I don't see how it could have gotten in there," he said. The only way to check for sure at this point was for him to cut a hole in our wall and examine the location where we had heard our critter to see if there were any signs of it. I called my wife to see if that's what she wanted. She wanted resolution since we already were on the hook for paying the pest management service, and so this was our only option. A hacksaw did quick work on our drywall. Of course, it was right in the corner of our bedroom, and so access wasn't easy. Soon, however, a square had been cut and the moment of truth had arrived. What was in our wall?

"Oh my goodness! Well, you've definitely got something here," our expert said. "I was not expecting this. You have a bat in your wall. And it's still alive."
"A bat?!!" my wife exclaimed over the phone. "Disgusting!"
Yes, folks. We had a brown bat in our wall. Our pest control friend proceeded to pull on his leather glove and reached in and carefully pulled out the bat that had taken up residence in our wall. It looked a lot like this:

Wow, bats are crazy creatures. The only flying mammal, they're great creatures to have around as they eat tons of mosquitos. They do look like flying mice, though. It's hard to see here, but on the front of his wings, at those points, are little claws. Those were what he was scratching with. He hadn't been running up and down our ducts, but flying. Darkness is no problem for these radar-based flyers. Pretty cool.

Needless to say, my wife was none too thrilled about having a bat in our wall. She was glad we had gotten it removed, though, and that at least it hadn't died in there. These sneaky little fellows can sneak into very skinny spaces, and so this one was probably trying to hibernate under a corner of our building and got himself lost inside. Our friend from Smithereen kindly took the bat with him. I know not its fate, but I have the feeling it was not good as it was pretty far gone and it is likely it was put out of its misery. I wash my hands of that part of the process. Better in the pest management van than our wall I suppose. So there you go. Next time you hear a pitter-patter, a scritch-scratch in your wall, the moral of this story is very simple. It may be a bat.

3 comments:

Greg said...
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Greg said...

That was a fun one to read... it does remind me of an experience Jason and I had senior year. I got home to the apartment and when I got to the bathroom, the door was shut. On the door hung a note written by Jason that went something like, "Don't open the door. There's a bat in here."

At first I thought it might be some type of misunderstanding, but no. I called Jason and he said that maintenance would be there shortly.

To make a long story short, a maintenance man arrived, used my old bed spread to trap it, used the flat of a hammer to bludgeon it to death, then dropped it in the dumpster and left.

philthy said...

we had a few bats at our frat house back in college. I think we chased them around and hit them with a tennis racket.