Bats in the belfry not a laughing matter

I have bats in my belfry.

That is, if I actually had a belfry, I’m sure that’s where my bats would be. And that would be fine. I’ve got nothing against bats, in theory.

Unfortunately, I’m belfry-free, and my bats aren’t happy: They’ve moved in.

When I say “moved in,” I don’t mean “moved into the attic, where they stay, all peaceful-like, until it’s time to venture forth and munch on some tasty nighttime mosquitoes.”

No, these bats have found their way into our living space — twice in a three-day span — and are causing a bit of turmoil in the Holyoke household.

If you live in a house with anyone who really, truly, hates bats, you’ll understand what I’m saying. And my wife, Karen, is a charter member of the Bat-Haters Club of America.

And when bats begin flapping their way around the living room when Michael Phelps is busy getting thrashed by Ryan Lochte, we’ve got a major problem.

Not that Karen actually saw the bat that flew through to watch some Olympic swimming, of course. She’s been working hard, and had dozed off in an easy chair when the little winged vermin (oops, I meant “cute little critter”) joined us the other night.

Knowing her distaste for bats, I simply coughed, loudly, and said, “Karen, it’s time for bed. Now!”

Her eyes popped open. She was likely a bit stunned by my tone. Then I said the magic word.


Upstairs she went, leaving one of those cartoon contrails in her wake. The bedroom door slammed.

And I got to work.

That bat was a pesky one, and quite a trickster. He bobbed. He weaved. He dodged. Eventually, I grounded him by tossing a heavy towel on him, scooped him up, and tossed him out the door.

Bat out. Job finished.

Except it wasn’t.

Two days later, as the kids were going about their morning routine, another bat (or, perhaps, the same one … it’s hard to tell one sharp-toothed flying rat from another, I’ve found) soared over young Gordon’s head as he entered the bathroom.

I went into my best Secret Service mode, shielding equally young Georgia from the flying intruder while shooing Gordon into the bathroom.

“Georgia! Downstairs. Gordon, close the door!” I barked. Apparently, my Secret Service agent impression isn’t very convincing. Both looked at me as if I’d lost my marbles and said, in unison, “Why?”

Neither had seen the bat, even though it continued to flap its way back and forth in the hallway.

Eventually, they did as I asked, and I corralled myself another bat.

This one I disgorged out the front door, where it made a beeline for the street, then made a hard left, in the general direction of Stephen King’s house.

Figures, I thought.

Now, I realized, I’ve really got a problem.

One bat is a nuisance. Two bats in three days? That’s an infestation. And that just won’t do.

Thankfully, my friends have been helpful. They have told me things like, “Go outside and stare at the sky at dusk, and you’ll see where they’re getting in.”

And like: “Even if you know where they’re getting in, you can’t seal off the opening. They’ll die in your attic, and will rot and stink up the house.”

And like: “Bats are valuable. You should welcome them. You should erect bat boxes in your yard.”

And like: “Did you know that the United Nations has declared 2012 the ‘year of the bat?'”

And like: “Did your bat have a white nose? There’s a white-nose syndrome that is devastating the bat population. They may become endangered soon.”

And I’ve replied with responses like this: “I was too busy dodging the bat’s fangs to look at its nose. I’m dreadfully sorry that I can’t tell you what color it was.”

And this: “Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy a tennis racquet and pretend that I’m practicing for Wimbledon?”

And this: “Year of the bat? I feel awful. I didn’t even send a card.”

And this: “Bat boxes? Tell that to Karen.”

All of which brings us to this: I’ve still got bats in my belfry, I think. For the past several days, they’ve remained there. We’ve had no more sightings.

But tonight, Michael Phelps is scheduled to race against Ryan Lochte again. I’m planning to watch. And over the past week, if I’ve learned one thing about bats, it’s this: They love Olympic swimming.

When I settle in to watch this evening, I may well do so with a tennis racquet in my hand. Year of the bat be damned.



John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.