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Bat Out of Hell (19 August 2006 - 9:18 a.m.)

Theyíre baaaaaack. The bats, that is. Around this time last year, I saw a bat on the wall next to our bedroom door. Daniel called Animal Control, and the person he spoke to said it was most likely an isolated incident. Someone came over and removed the creature.

Isolated incident, my ass. When I woke up the next morning, there was another bat flying around our bedroom. I went down to open the front door so it could exit the house. A few nights later, Leigh came out of her room to say she heard wings flapping. Investigation led to a bat in a cardboard box. We covered the opening, and carried the box outside. It was really creepy to watch the batís wings grasp the top rim of the box as it pulled itself up, inch by inch, and took off for the sky.

Needless to say, this experience was quite unnerving for all of us. We know that bats are generally harmless, and are good for mosquito control, etc., but that's little consolation when one is burrowing in boxes in your bedroom, or flying around over your head when you're trying to sleep.

I don't have any idea where the bats are gaining entrance. I stood outside at dawn and dusk many times, but, while I did see a few bats flying around in the sky over the back yard, I didn't see any entering or exiting our house. We had a chimney cap installed, and hoped that would take care of the problem. Of course, it didnít.

This past Wednesday night, Leigh entered her room and discovered another bat. Although I am told she screamed her head off, I somehow managed to sleep through the uproar. Daniel filled me in the following morning. Naturally, Leigh is now refusing to sleep in there. I canít say that I blame her. Itís a small room, with a low, slanted ceiling where her bed is positioned, so there is an increased likelihood that a bat could make physical contact.

Not only do we now have a problem with sleeping arrangements (Rebecca doesnít go back to school until September 4th), but there is also the problem of Leighís clothes being in a room she refuses to step foot into. In fact, no one else has had the nerve to go in the room, so I've been unanimously elected.

At first, I was really freaked out. I kept telling myself, ďBats are relatively harmless. They keep the insect population under control.Ē However, the less rational part of my brain was yelling: ďWARNING! WARNING! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!Ē

The irrational part of my brain kept imagining the bat getting TANGLED IN MY HAIR. In my mindís eye, I saw myself running and shrieking through the house, with a bat attached to my head. Because of my uncooperative hair, I've been threatening to shave my head, but I wouldn't want to be forced into actually taking such drastic action because of bat head (not to be confused with bed head).

I shared this story with the OB-GYN Nurse Practitioner I had an appointment with on Thursday. She had a good laugh when I told her that, upon my first foray into the room of doom, I chose to wear protective headgear in the form of a laundry basket. (For the record, I went in bareheaded during subsequent excursions. The laundry basket was too cumbersome.) Ms. NP told me that her mother actually had a bat get caught in her hair once. Maybe that fear isnít so irrational, after all!


Anyway, Iíve been in Leighís room several times since the sighting, but canít find the bat. Maybe it left the same way it got in. Or maybe it's hiding... All I know for sure is that I can't live this way.

As I mentioned above, Animal Control helped us out last year, so I called them again on Thursday. I spoke to the top dog - the animal warden, herself, but she told me they donít remove bats any more. I remarked that I find it unbelievable that there is no protection for the citizens of this city against these potentially rabid creatures. Her response was that I should contact the Health Department if Iím concerned about rabies (which can be fatal, by the way. I realize that there is an extremely low risk of getting rabies from a bat, but still, why take chances?).

The Health Department, however, will only get involved if a person or pet comes into actual physical contact with a bat. Personally, I think there is something very wrong with this picture. Hardworking taxpayers of modest means shouldn't have to go into debt to protect themselves from a potential health risk. (Besides the possibility of bats being rabid, their guano can pose a threat to human health.)

I called a Pest Control/Wildlife Removal company, and was told that a consultation costs $125. They can't even give a ballpark estimate for removal and prevention until they inspect the premises. The woman I spoke to did tell me that there is a bat removal currently in progress that will cost the homeowners $3,000. Thatís THREE. THOUSAND. DOLLARS.

I felt sick to my stomach when I heard that. I don't have three HUNDRED dollars, let alone three THOUSAND. Still, I would like to have an expert inspect the house and give me an opinion on the scope of the problem. So I booked an appointment for the consultation. Unfortunately, they canít send anyone over until September 2nd.

I did call two other companies, but one of them doesnít service the city where I live. The other guy was out, so I left a message on his answering machine. When he called me back, he got MY answering machine. We are now engaged in a game of phone tag.

I donít know what to do if I reach him, anyway. I canít afford to pay for a second opinion, and, apparently, there are no genuinely ďfreeĒ estimates in this business. In talking to the first company, I discovered that "free estimate" means you pay for a consultation and THEN you get the "free" estimate for how much the job will cost. Pretty slick, huh?

Bat rastards.

Song of the Day: Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf

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