His sad adventure began on Tuesday night in the kitchen light fixture pictured in the third paragraph. This is the only picture on this post that is not in full power. The fourth picture, in which the bat is hissing, is especially worth clicking on to view it in full power.
I was on the family room couch going through accumulated mail on Tuesday night when I heard a rattling sound. At first I feared that a serial killer might have sneaked in, then decided that this was unlikely and went into the kitchen to investigate. I was pretty sure that the refrigerator was malfunctioning. I'd had a part replaced earlier in the week by the second repairman sent out by a local appliance store. The first repairman had a meltdown on his second visit when I told him that he'd broken the water filter when diagnosing the original problem. He left in a huff, replacement part in hand.
I opened the refrigerator doors, saw nothing amiss, moved the refrigerator away from the wall, checked behind it and pushed it back against the wall. The rattling stopped. I'd fixed the problem. Or not. The rattling began again within seconds of my return to the family room couch. I regarded the refrigerator with disgust and opened the doors again, then realized that the sound was coming from above, from the fixture housing the fluorescent lights it seemed. I turned on the lights and saw a blob with what looked like four little feet.
At this point and for the next twenty minutes or so, I vacillated between wanting to kill and wanting to save my unwanted guest. It was in my humane mode that I used a broom handle to move aside one of the panels. When I did this, I discovered the my guest had wings. He made his way to the opening and I freaked out. I became the typical eeeek woman who screams upon seeing a mouse.
I've been at close quarters with bats before. A number of years ago, Rachael and I took a class sponsored by our local junior collage and taught by two of its professors, in Costa Rica. One night we joined local naturalists as they discussed and displayed members of a bat population that they were studying. I had held two of the bats after learning how to properly do so. I thought they were highly cool.
This was different. The thought of a bat flying free in the close quarters of my kitchen/family room area terrified me. I tried to return the panel to its original position. In the process of doing this, another panel shifted out of position. At no point was I able to get all three panels back to where they belonged. The inevitable happened and a bit of bat wing slipped between a crack. I called 911, told the operator why I was calling, was put on hold, and was in full screech mode when the operator returned. By this time the bat had flown over the kitchen island and was circling the family room. The 911 operator calmly told me to go into a room where I could close the door. I feared for Mousie, my orange cat, but followed her instructions. She told me that Animal Control would be calling shortly.
Waiting for Animal Control to call, I got braver. Closing the bedroom door behind me, I slowly made my way to the family room, prepared for a quick retreat if I saw the bat. I did not. When Andrew from Animal Control called, I agreed that it would be okay to wait until the next morning for him to come. He'd been on-call and was asleep when 911 called him; my place was about a half hour away from where he lived. I returned to the bedroom leaving the door slightly ajar so that Daisy, my black cat, could come in the room. By the time that Andrew called on Wednesday morning, the bat seemed to have disappeared.
All day long, there was no sign of the bat. In the evening, when I had friends for dinner, there was no sign of the bat. When I was brushing my teeth, no bat appeared. It wasn't until I was laying in bed that I noticed that Daisy was in a state of hyper-alertness. I followed her gaze, saw movement in the drapes and then THE BAT swooping across the bedroom. I hid under the covers, peeked out, and saw the fearsome flight of the bat. This happened one or two more times and then the bat seemed to have disappeared. I grabbed my pillow, closed the bedroom door, and slept upstairs.
The next morning, by this time braver, I opened the downstairs bedroom door and gingerly searched for "Mr. Bat." My giving the bat this title was an early sign of the delicate bond that I began to feel with the poor creature, though I have no idea as to whether Ms. might have been more appropriate. I kept the bedroom door closed throughout the day and also on Thursday night, when I again slept upstairs. I also left out some water and food for him: apple chunks, raisins, almonds, and cheese. Besides not wanting him to starve, I figured that I'd know if he was there if he went for the food.
Friday morning arrived and with it, no sign of Mr. Bat. Andrew, on whose answering machine I had left a message on Thursday, returned my call and said that he'd stop by to look for the bat. After a futile search, we had the following conversation:
"I was thinking of using a sheet to trap him if I find him," I said, "and then, I guess, I'd let him go free."
"You don't want to do that," said Andrew. "You should call us."
"What would you do?"
"We'd test it for rabies."
"And then what? Would you kill him?"
"Yes," said Andrew and then reiterated the importance of my calling Animal Control.
I had made plans for this week-end to attend a regional gathering in Sacramento of a group to which I belong. I left shortly after Andrew was gone, closing the bedroom door and fully expecting to come home to a decomposing bat corpse on Sunday if Mr. Bat had not found a way to escape. Since my bedroom was free from the odor of death upon my return earlier this afternoon, I assumed that Mr. Bat had found his own solution.
Until I noticed a dead bat lying on the living room carpet. That I'd been so oblivious as to not notice it when I'd gotten home shocked me. I felt a heavy sadness that Mr. Bat had died after all. I got a couple of plastic gelato spoons from the kitchen and used them to try to move him. He seemed to quiver. He was alive! Eventually, I was able to put him in a box which I took outside and opened. Mr. Bat slowly moved his head and then seemed to be actively sniffing the air. His ears perked up as he heard the birds. He raised himself up. He moved from one area of the box to another. At some point, I was able to shake him from the box. He remained where he landed for a while, sniffing and listening to the birds. Then he craned his neck, lept into the air, landed on the ground and then flew, first in a couple of circles and then high above the house and away to where my gaze could no longer follow him.