Bats are about the most common form of wildlife here in the Michigan U.P., but one doesn’t often get the chance to photograph them. They usually don’t come out until dusk, when you can catch glimpses of them against the sky or hear them swoop right by you on the sidewalk. This one happened to be hanging out on our house’s foundation yesterday evening.
Countless bats make their homes in the woods, attics, and eves around here. That’s good because of their impact on the insect population, but they do occasionally make it into the buildings. When this happens there are two options: try and guide it out a door or window, or pull out the tennis rackets for a rousing game of bat-minton. Option one is obviously the preferred and humane method, but it runs the risk of letting more bats in and isn’t always possible; we often end up having to practice our forehands instead.
Luckily, this usually only happens about once a year. A few years ago, though, our place was invaded by more than thirty of the creatures. This led to the one time in my life where I truly felt as if in a horror movie. I’d gone to bed knowing there was one bat loose somewhere in the house because it had been spotted earlier. Sure enough, I awoke an hour later to the feeling of a bat skimming very close above my face. I grabbed my racket, swung, and missed. Suddenly, a second bat revealed itself and joined the first in flying circles around my bedroom.
I decided to take a break from this and stumbled toward the door. As I pushed it open, I felt a bat brush against my arm (the first and only time one has collided with me). I groaned and stumbled into the pitch black hallway, assuming I’d gotten away from them. But I flicked on the light and was greeted with the sight of another dozen flying confusedly around me in this tight space. What the hell was going on here?
After a moment of panic, I awakened my grandparents and, rackets in hand, we dispatched of most of them. Then we uncovered the source of the problem. The bats had discovered a way in through an old, unused chimney. It’s opening into the kitchen had been sealed with a metal plate long ago, but the bats were apparently able to squeeze through it. We could tell because as we looked at the plate, trying to confirm that the squeeking noises we heard were really coming from there, creepy little bat hands darted in and out from behind it. See the rear feet in the photo to see what I mean.
We kept them at bay by shining a bright light above the plate for the rest of the night, then sealed it better the next morning. Many of the bats were still loose in the cottage, however, and we kept coming across them over the next week and a half. Sometimes this happened memorably, such as when one came crawling out of an oven mit hanging on the wall. Other times it was completely casually, like glancing up to see a bat hanging above the refrigerator when reaching for the milk. By the end of it all, we’d become surprisingly nonchalant about the presence of these ugly buggers. Ever since, their occassional appearance indoors has been greeted without alarm, though not always without tennis rackets.