Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The scene: The Riesenberg house, 9 PM Friday night, upon our return from a shopping trip to the mall.

The culprit: A little brown bat, probably an infant

The accomplices: Jacob and Cade

The story begins quite simply. We returned as a family from a trip to the mall. The only time we shop at the mall is at the end of the season when the clearance racks sport extra 50% off the marked down prices and everyone was quite happy with the treasures they had found. We walk in the door and the girls scurry up the steps to hang their new purchases in their closet. Within seconds the sound of children flying down a flight of steps echos through the house, followed by an out of breath Emily announcing "there is a BAT in the house.". Mom, being the brave soul she is, demands that Dad go up and see if such a statement can possibly be true. He returns about 10 minutes later to declare that yes there is a bat in the house and that he has cornered it in our bedroom. He then says that said bat gained entrance into our home through Jacob and Cade's bedroom window which they had apparently torn the screen out of that afternoon, hence them being named accomplices in our bat adventure. He shut their window to assure that none of little bat's friends would be joining him.

OK, so what is the first thing that pops into ones mind when confronted by a bat? RABIES! I sit on the couch and tell Jay to not touch the bat, that he must put on gloves and long clothing if he is even going to consider approaching said bat. I am thinking it will just be easier to give up my bedroom and let the bat live there so that I don't have to confront him. Then reality sets in. If I let the bat have my bedroom, that means that he also gets my bathroom and the thought of having to share that messy, smelly, dirty thing my children call their bathroom is enough for me to spring into action. First I try to call my friend Kas, as she is the animal expert and also has had rabies shots thanks to her bat adventures. No answer, I will have to figure this out on my own. And where is it that I head? To the bookshelf of course, what else would you expect from a homeschooler? From the trusty shelves I pull my copy of In Ohio's Backyard: Bats and begin flipping through the pages. We begin by identifying our visitor as a little brown bat and then I go on to read that my rabies fear is likely unfounded as less than 1% of the bats in our area are rabid. The fact that so few are rabid, really doesn't calm me much, as bad luck is the only kind of luck we tend to have. I go on to read that the easiest way to get a bat out of ones house is to turn off all the lights in the house, open the windows and go outside and turn on some lights. Insects, the staple of a little brown bat's diet, congregate around lights and the bat knows this and will head that direction for a meal. I impart my new found wisdom on my husband and he heads up to our bedroom, unplugs all the lights, takes the screen from the window, and sends Brett outside to turn on the driveway lights and the headlights to the van. And the waiting begins.

Rather than sit in the dark and watch to see the bat exit the room, my husband decides to come downstairs and watch TV. After about a half an hour he goes back into our bedroom and looks for brown bat. He thinks it has exited the room, as he is no longer hanging from the rafter, but is startled by the bat when he moves the curtain and sees him hanging there. Big strong man that he is, he throws one of the kids stuff animals at the poor thing, luckily it doesn't seem to hurt the bat. I tell him that he got what he deserved for leaving the room. Over the course of the next 2 hours the kids wander in and out of our bedroom and report what little bat is doing. At about 1 AM, 4 hours after the ordeal began, the little brown bat is no where in sight. Jay searches every crevice of our bedroom including the ruffle on Will's cradle. We put the screen back in the window.

I will admit that every time I woke up during the night I scanned every corner of the room to make sure the little brown bat was really gone. For now, the little boys are not allowed to open their bedroom window since they will likely tear out the screen once again, because bats will follow the same flight path every night, and I really don't want my bedroom on his nightly route!

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