I have a story to tell. This happened to us this past Sunday evening but before I begin it is important to preface this story with a very important message. Dan is not a coward. This is the same man who has broken up an axe fight before it escalated to a chainsaw fight. He has come across all manners of wild animals, including bears and coyotes, and lived to tell the tale. He’s the same man who also regularly cleans out our bathtub drain of my Chewbacca hair (it’s like a horror movie in there).
We all have our own personal list of things that scare us and until the other night I didn’t realize how high up bats rank on Dan’s list.
Journey forth on my lyrical adventure of mystery, mayhem, and mayhap murder?
It’s around 1am and Dan’s snoring soundly next to me in bed. I’m taking a little more time getting to dreamland and start to notice a gentle scuttling noise. A little pissed thinking the cat must be in our room again, maybe chasing that moth that got in earlier, I squint trying to use my nightvision to the furthest of its capabilities. Seeing nothing I figure the cat ran back out into the hall when he realized he’s been caught in the room (knowing full well he shouldn’t be in there).
I shut the bedroom door and creep down the hall to turn on the light, knowing when I do the cat would just run up to me expecting middle-of-the-night pets. Glancing around and seeing no cat, I shrug my shoulders and that’s when I hear more scuttling in our bedroom. He must still be in there and is trying to push the door now, I thought and promised myself he would get zero pets for this.
I flip off the light in the hallway and turn on the one in the bathroom to disturb Dan as little as possible; he shouldn’t have to wake up because our cat is a freak at night. Opening the door, I still see no cat. That’s when I heard the scuttle again. Is it a cricket? I was beginning to wonder and bent closer to the floor. That’s when I caught the motion.
Crouching on the ground, I look up to see a bat cutting a circle around our room. It can only be a bat – no bird flies like that. My brain is thinking this has got to be the coolest thing. And then I remember Dan is sleeping right under this swooping creature. I stand up and step back out into the hallway.
In a very matter-of-fact voice, firm but not shouting I said, “Dan. You need to get out of the bedroom. There’s a bat.”
In the many years we’ve been together Dan has proudly told me what an accomplished jumper he was in his youth. Long jumps, high jumps, anything springy. After watching how fast AND far he jumped out of bed, I realized those skills are still with him to this day. One foot took him out of the bedroom and the other landed right in front of me. According to him, standing in front of me is his first memory. So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you our very own: Sleep Jumper.
There is something about seeing the look of pure terror on a loved one’s face that is incredibly hilarious when you are totally and completely certain they are not in danger. Grabbing both of my shoulders, Dan’s mouth was slack and his eyes were locked onto the beating wings of our new houseguest. Watching the bat’s movement in the room he just vacated, Dan began to angle me toward the bedroom and shift himself behind me. I’m guessing in an effort to save himself from such a ferocious creature.
I close the bedroom door and just start laughing at him. Leaning on the spare bedroom doorframe, I am doubled over in hysterics while he stands there with his mouth still open and staring at the now closed bedroom door. I can barely catch a breath and just give him a hug. As much as I’d love to just laugh at him for hours, I don’t want the bat to get hurt and we need to take care of the situation promptly.
Disappearing down the hall, I return moments later and hand Dan his computer tablet.
Dan: “What’s this for?”
Me: “We need to take care of it.”
Dan: “You want me to hit it with my tablet?!”
Me: another very long fit of laughter
Me: “No! Look up advice on the internet. I’ll be right back; I’m grabbing the camera. We HAVE to run this as an article – it’s too awesome not to.”
Returning with the camera, Dan used his internet skills to create a game plan. We would open the hallway window, shut off all the lights, open the bedroom door and the bat would sense the fresh air and fly out. This was a great plan as it encouraged neither combat or contact. Bats are cute but I’m not going to handle a wild animal if I can help it.
Shutting the door to the spare room, Dan left me alone in the hallway to deal with the action. As I put my hand on the doorknob, I hear a scurrying against the door.
Me: “I can’t open the door, I think it’s against it and I don’t want to hurt it.”
Dan: “What if it crawls under?!”
Me: “Is that even possible?” (crouching down) “Yes, it’s entirely possible. In fact, here comes our little Rambo now.”
Dan: “It’s crawling out?!”
Me: “Yep. He is crawling under the door, elbows on the carpet like a soldier at war. This little guy is awesome. Oh, now he’s flying in the hallway – better keep that door closed honey or he might get you.” More laughing…
Our little bat landed on the hallway curtain for a bit of a rest. After crawling under the door soldier-style and flying around the bedroom for a few minutes, it deserved a bit of a break.
Finding myself in a new situation now that he was resting on the exact window I needed to open, I flicked off the hallway light and turned on the bathroom one. Noticing the light change, he took to the air and made his way to the new destination. Shutting the bathroom door, I filled Dan in and he ran out quickly to open the hallway window and pry off the screen so our exciting adventure could end as fast as possible. And then he ran right back into the spare bedroom as though his butt was on fire.
With the open window and Dan tucked neatly away, I turned on the hallway light and opened the bathroom. Our bat flew out in the hallway, did a few turns and landed right on the window frame.
After snapping a few photos, I shut off the hallway light hoping that the bright moon and fresh air would encourage his flight. Nope, he just sat there. I wasn’t sure if he was scared or exhausted. He didn’t seem to be hurt but I wasn’t going to get too close and have him drop away terrified. Settling in for a wait, I sat halfway down the hall so I could still watch him from the moonlight. Looking behind me I can only see the tiniest crack in the door and Dan’s eyeball.
Me: “Are you really going to sit like that with your eye pressed to the door? You can just go to bed; I don’t know how long it will take.”
Dan: “Are you crazy?! I can’t sleep now! I refuse to look away until I see him leave with my own eyes!”
Me: I am now laying down in the hallway laughing so incredibly hard. My sides are hurting and tears are streaming down my face.
Dan: “You know, you are scared of things too.”
Me: “What’s so wrong with bats?”
Dan: “They have unpredictable flight patterns. I never know where they are going and it disturbs me.”
Me: “I snapped a bunch of pictures while avoiding the bat. They really aren’t unpredictable.”
Dan: “Even though I know it’s an old wive’s tale, I still worry about them getting in my hair.”
Me: “Your hair is short!” laughing session for a few more minutes
Me: “I think it’s drinking blood. I can’t see for sure.”
Me: laughing hysterics again, seriously wondering if I might pee myself
Dan: “That isn’t funny.”
Me: “I think this is my favourite night.”
After about 25 minutes of this, we start to see movement. Our bat has clearly rested and drops from the window frame and down into the night sky. Most importantly, Dan witnesses the whole thing and can now safely come out of hiding.
Now our story had a happy ending but I don’t want to downplay the dangers of bat encounters. Dan and I will have to go in for a post-exposure rabies vaccine. We don’t have any visible bites but sometimes bats don’t leave a bite mark. The bat was in our bedroom for awhile, including a minute or two while Dan slept, and it could have been in our house for days. Bites are what people commonly associate with rabies, but it can be passed in a bat’s saliva as well. It just isn’t worth the risk to assume we’re fine.
After searching the house, we couldn’t find an entry point and since we have screens on our windows, it must have found another way in through the walls or openings. Our house has bats in the attic and it’s likely one of them found their way down to our bedroom somehow.
Our bat was a little brown bat, one of the more common Ontario species. Bats are incredibly beneficial and you shouldn’t kill them if found in your home. Find a humane way to release them. They are terrific pest controllers and can eat three times their body weight in bugs every night. Imagine trying to do that yourself! Well, not in bugs anyway. Maybe pancakes? Mmmm, pancakes.
Maybe this all happened because our online comic star is bat-like?