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Bad Onely Activities: Killer Bats February 23, 2011

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities.
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Welcome to the latest installment in our series Bad Onely Activities, where we muse on those awkward moments when being single–or living alone–seems kind of tough. This week we wonder whether we should join Match.com: “Woman who loves laughs and walks on the beach seeks same, plus a bat wrangler.”

“EEeeEEeeEE click eeEEeeEE click.” My cat Alvin crouches on top of the kitchen buffet looking at something squeaky and flapping. Then the useless feline turns and runs. It’s midnight, and I’m alone and exhausted. I start to cry.

This is my fourth domestic bat. You’d think I’d be a bat-removal expert by now, but no.  I have post-traumatic bat disorder.

The first bat trapped me in the bathroom for five minutes. I curled up on the tile floor, a sheet over my head and body, every now and then cracking open the door to see if the supersonic little bugger was gone. And each time he wasn’t. Whenever I peeked into the hall, a smear of swirling black air whooshed past my face, forcing me back under the sheet. (Lest you wonder how I so conveniently happened to have a sheet in the bathroom: I woke up to the bat flapping around in the canopy of my bed, so I dragged the sheet on top of me as I crawled to safety.)

I didn’t remove that bat from the house. Nor did I ever capture the other bat that one night swooped my face so closely I felt the air from its wings. I lost each one in my mess of bookcases and picture frames. I just had to hope they would escape by themselves, before dying and rotting, or before killing me.

The third bat appeared while my mom and uncle were alone in my house. They trapped it in a jar, like a firefly.  I didn’t get those genes.

Which is why I’m shaking and whimpering as I stand on a chair peering over the top of the buffet at this brown furry lump, knowing it is about to charge me. Its wings of crinkled black leather can unfold to over three feet, and its mousy mouth hides fangs as long as my pinky. (I estimate here.) It will rush me, and I will fall off the chair and break my skull and lie on the floor for days until they find me, with the engorged bat still attached to my jugular.

I want nothing more than to go upstairs and get my seven-foot-tall boyfriend, the firebreathing one with hydaulic steel forearms. But I’m single and live alone. So I do the next best thing: I call my mom.

“Help help! I’m scared! Tell me how you managed to trap that bat before.”

And she says helpfully, “What bat?”

Seeing that my mom is as useless as my imaginary boyfriend, and also perhaps a little senile (who forgets trapping a bat?) I realize I have to get my Onely on. I must take matters into own hands–once I don my leather work gloves. And a fleece with the hood cinched around my cheeks and chin.

I arm myself with a racquetball racquet, mason jar, and a towel and climb back onto the chair. But my equipment is useless. The creature has cleverly wedged itself between some vases and the raised ledge of the buffet.

The bat jiggles its hips. “EEeeEEeeEE click eeEEeeEE click eeEEeeEEEEEeeEEEeeee click EEEee,” it says, which if I remember my freshman Bat 101 correctly, means something like, “B&tch with the racquet, I’m going to rip out your throat and leave it to rot on your crummy linoleum.”

Point well made. I jump off the chair. What, I think, would my huge, fearless, imaginary boyfriend do when confronted with such a foe?  Why of course–he would throw cat toys at it.

I toss some jingle balls. Ding ding ding EEEeeeeEEEclickEEEEeeee ding ding ding. The bat crawls down to the floor behind the buffet. I roll ping-pong balls to dislodge it, thinking that any moment the fiend will swoop me. Instead it waddles backwards into an open corner, where it just sits. I tiptoe forward, sniffling, holding the towel in one hand and a nine-volt flashlight in the other. My goal is to blind the bat into submission while I disable it under the towel.

With a wild scream I toss the towel at the corner, where it–damned areodynamics–parachutes down right next to, but not covering, the bat. EEEEeeeeEEE click EEeeEEEee click! Wailing, I grab the corner of the towel, back up, and throw again. Success. My hand shakes as I put the mason jar over the little lump of cloth and pull away the towel. I feel the cloth pulling at the bat’s body. Because it’s almost as if I’m touching the bat itself, I whimper.

Peering through the glass, I see the bat has a ripped wing. At first I feel sorry for it. Then I realize that only its injury stopped it from whooshing at me and clawing out my eyes. I start to whimper again.

I whimper more as I slide cardboard under the jar opening, and I whimper as I drag the jar and cardboard with my fingertips across the carpet to the porch door. I whimper as I lay down a spiral binder as a bridge to slide the jar over the threshold and into the wild.

Sure, that’s not how Bear Grylls would have dealt with the situation. (He would have grabbed the bat with his bare hand and popped it in his mouth.) But in my own wincing, mincing way, I got the job done.

Once again, I’m reminded that living alone is a great privilege, especially in this economy, but a privilege with a price. Am I independent and resourceful enough to deal with crises? Sure, if I’m allowed to whine.

Copious Readers, have you had Bad Onely interactions with wildlife? How dignified were you?



Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons


1. Mel - February 23, 2011

Hilarious!! I have had several similar incidents with cockroaches, spiders and once with a mouse. And I must admit, the wildlife situation had a huge impact on my decision of where to live when I bought a place last year. I now live in a 6th floor apartment, rather than a house, in order to reduce my wildlife exposure to flying insects only (and only then if I leave my balcony door open). So far, so good.

2. Jenn - February 24, 2011

Good for you!!! I’ve never encountered a bat in a domestic situation, and am fairly certainly I would completely freak out if I did, so I am completely in awe of your accomplishment! 🙂 My nemesis is heights – I have a bougainvillea that threatens to take out my utility lines because I simply can’t get up a damn ladder high enough to get to the branches that need cutting. I know I can pay people to do stuff like that but then I feel like a big wuss. But after reading this, I may have to force myself up the ladder – it doesn’t seem nearly as terrifying as dealing with a bat…

3. Lauri - February 24, 2011

First and foremost, Bear Grylls is the best imaginary boyfriend to have in situations such as this. Or any other time. Eh hem.

Anyway, the way you handled that was AWESOME. May not have been Bear-style, but totally McGyver-style. Where did you get a jar big enough for a bat!?! How did you think of the binder bridge!!! And holy crap, the flash light idea, pure genius.

We always had bats in my college dorms, but the security people would come in with nets and take care of it. I still was always afraid I would open my closet and one would come flying out at me. My only bat experience was really weird. When I lived down south, I lived in this big apartment complex with open-air breeze ways. I was walking my bike down the breeze way to my apartment just before dusk when a small bat came flying straight at me. Totally odd behavior for a bat, so my first thought is RABIES (I took too much epidemiology in college). Anyway, I scream, as anyone would do, apparently freak out the bat, and he flies directly into the ceiling fan, and the poor little guy gets beheaded. At this point I had also studied the effects of wind turbines on bat populations, and thus also knew that unless they have RABIES bats rarely fly into turbines…I freak out and run (with my bike) past the poor little dead guy into my apartment. And immediately start googling RABIES. I learned that 1) this type of bat is the one that has the highest incidence of RABIES 2) you can’t get RABIES from saliva or blood, but you can get it from brain tissue (which I dunno, could be exposed when something gets decapitated) and 3) you really have to watch out for pets nibbling on dead bats 4) the rabies vaccine is totally not as painful as it used to be.

It may have had something to do with the traumatizing nature of watching a little mammal fly directly into a ceiling fan and become decapitated, but I totally thought I had RABIES for weeks. The first thing I did was call animal control, and the guy was like “wait, let me get this straight, the bat is dead??? what do you want us to do about it then?” I was like, “well bats have the highest incidence of FREAKING RABIES than any other mammal…” and he’s like, “did the bat bite you!?!?!” and I’m like, “well…no…” At this point the nice man at animal control is ready to hang up on me. So the next thing I did was call the building maintenance to tell them to remove the dead bat because, eh hem, dogs might get into it (but really I didn’t want RABIES lying around)…then I called my parents and freaked out until they convinced me that if it made me feel better, I could always go to the hospital and get a rabies vaccine, but really, I was probably ok. Then I freaked out a bit more because I had touched my bike tires and I was afraid it could have gotten rabies on it…anyway I calmed down and called the hospital, and after much holding someone told me I really didn’t need a vaccine…so I was calm…

…for a while…until my fear suddenly resurfaced a few weeks later when telling some classmates about the story. But these guys were the type of guys who have dealt with bats…they pretty much convinced me I was ok. But I was never really cool with it until 2 years had passed, which is the possible length of time it could take to show symptoms (and thus die) of RABIES.

Onely - March 7, 2011

Lauri, your story made me laugh! I love a good decapitated bat story. But seriously, I also would have been afraid of RABIES in the bat brains. For sure. I would not have laughed at you! I was worrying that my bat injured its wing because maybe (unbeknownst to me) it got into a scuffle with one of the cats, because how else could it have made it into my kitchen with a torn wing? I checked them for bites but I didn’t see any, so I think we’re ok. I had heard you had to wait six weeks for it to incubate, not two years. Oh dear. . . .

4. singlutionary - February 26, 2011

Wahhhaa. I LOVE this story. I have two responses:

1. Just wait until you have a boyfriend who is more scared of the bat than you are and actually places you between himself and the bat, using you as a kind of human bat shield. Then you not only have to deal with his hysterics, you also have to remove the bat by yourself anyways.

2. I had to bury my pet chicken last week. I wrote about it on my blog. The worst part was having to haul the dead chicken carcass out of the chicken coop. Fortunately, it wasn’t a warm day and it hadn’t been dead long. Dead things are not the same to touch as live things, no matter how cute they were when they were alive. Bad Onely Activity: dealing with dead pets

Onely - March 7, 2011

Ew that would be worse than wildlife by far (Nicole had the dead possum but at least that’s not a pet!) I’m sorry about your chicken.

5. josie - February 26, 2011

Well done! A bat! It sounds quite beyond me. I feel like a big wuss getting a little psyched out by a teeny little spider. (Well, not so small- about the span of my hand.) I think you’re terribly brave to capture it. The Buddhist in me wants to capture the huntsmen in my house and release them outside but usually I’m not brave enough and just ignore them.
Except when one was in the en suite bathroom the other day. I didn’t want him to wander into my bedroom during the night so I sprayed surface spray up high in my room. Unfortunately he did wander into my room during the night and was discovered the next morning all shrivelled up.
I once had a bird in my house- I am very afraid of birds, all that flapping stuff, won’t even go new chickens- and I hid in the other room till someone came and shooed it outside. Can’t remember who, my late husband or my Dad or someone. Living near to my father is an excellent idea for scarey wildlife. I know I’d be completely useless with a bat. Icky!

6. Nicole - February 28, 2011

i did have an experience once where my dog killed a possum and i had to wait two days with it in the backyard just out of sight (THANKFULLY) until i got someone to put it on our curb for animal control. of course, during said time, i had to let out the dog in the front yard to do her business since i was petrified of my dog getting rabies and then sleeping in the bed with me!

7. adlin - February 28, 2011

For me, in my first house it was the grasshopper invasion – ginormous, unafraid grasshoppers everywhere. I wasn’t dignified at all – I got my dad to drive 3 hours to help me get plants off my patio in the house so I didn’t have to go out there. This was an invasion that in some areas took out entire hibiscus plants and other shrubs. Some people had them in their mailboxes even. Thankfully, I didn’t or I would not have been able to get the mail.

There were also the wolf spiders – large little dudes and in my second house some type of huge grass spider that came above ground when we had a very wet spring. Yeah, no, I didn’t go in the yard. Totally spooked by them. With said spiders in the house – I armed myself with a can of Raid and a heavy duty fly swatter.

Fairly sure I would have been useless with a bat, though I’m not sure what my cat would have done, but I doubt I’d want her near it. I think you handled it admirably.

Onely - March 7, 2011

Thanks Adlin. I would have been having hysterics over grasshoppers too, because they are so crunchy. But oddly I have very little problem with spiders at all, so I will come rescue you during your next invasion! = )

8. josie - February 28, 2011

Glad to hear someone else’s dad comes and rescues them!

9. Wendy Hahn - March 1, 2011


I was whimpering just reading about you capturing the bat. I agree with what Caron said at writing group: my husband would be useless with a bat in the house. I do have a poem inspired by an onely moment wherein I killed a huge spider while he was on business in Australia for three weeks and lamented how whimpy I had become. Great writing.

Onely - March 7, 2011

Thanks W–as long as no one SEES you being whimpy (whimping?), you can change the story to make yourself sound much tougher. = ) = )

10. Barbara - March 2, 2011

Wonderful story, well told, Onely. As an adult I’ve had similar encounters with mice, spiders, birds, and squirrels. My experiences with bats and ticks took place when I was a kid and was still able to call dad to the rescue. But my single-mom daughter’s experiences battling man-eating fish, trying to get rid of fleas the size of small trucks, and dealing with other assorted creatures make for some really nightmarish stories. Ah, it’s great to be onely and brave!

Onely - March 7, 2011


11. Onely - March 2, 2011

HAHAHA. I LOVE these stories! Amazing. Reminds me of one of my worst Onely activities: Bumblebee removal…


— Lisa

12. eleanore - March 5, 2011

Boy oh boy, did you bring back memories. This past summer I had a bat or two in my house. It’s times like this that I wish a husband would miraculously appear (but not stay too long). Fortunately, I used my neighbor’s husband, instead, who disposed of said bats. It’s not fair, though.

Onely - March 7, 2011

So then you know my pain. I hope yours weren’t late at night, because that’s the worst! Just want to sleep and. . . aaaaaaaa!

13. Dont Be a Slut - April 16, 2011

I so applaud your bravery. I woke up one morning and found a mouse swimming in my toilet. I screamed like a lady in a cartoon, then called my landlord. They were nice enough to send one of the maintenance guys right over. He flushed the poor little mousey down the toilet. I felt like a total murderous coward … but too relieved to care!

14. Sheila - May 5, 2011

Wow. So wow. You are a rock star. This sounds horrifying. I can only type in short sentences, because I am so disturbed.

Here in NYC, when we have to deal with giant, cunning flying waterbugs we just get drunk first.

I have to concur with the various posters who point out that having a man around is no guarantee that you won’t have to handle this kind of freak show on your own. When I was little it was my mom who got up in the middle of the night to kill the flying waterbugs.

I must reiterate- you are a rock star.

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