I think I can justifiably claim I’ve lived an interesting life, but a recent experience was downright bizarre.
I confess I have become addicted to some of my teenage boys’ video games. Just after midnight a couple of weeks ago I was feeling too awake to go to bed, so I decided to quietly play TimeSplitters 2 in what we call our upstairs “media area.” (When we built an addition to our house a few years ago, we created access to three new rooms by converting one of the original bedrooms into an open space leading to the new hallway.)
As I was playing I noticed something near the periphery of my vision fluttering by. I assumed it was a large moth. A few seconds later, the creature returned, flying in the opposite direction. This time it passed directly between me and the TV screen. There was no mistaking that this was a warm-blooded, winged animal.
I ran into the bedroom, roused my wife, and informed her that a bird had somehow gotten into the house. Even I thought it sounded unbelievable, so I opened the door a crack to make sure. “Now there are two of them!” I told my wife.
We were baffled. All of the windows in our house have good screens, and we close and lock all of the downstairs windows every night. My wife suggested that we remove the screen to an upstairs bathroom window, drive the intruders into that room, and shut the door behind them. I grabbed a webbed laundry hamper hoping to either catch one or shoo it into the bathroom. I was struck by how the intruders cruised back and forth with nearly identical flight paths.
It wasn’t long before one of them flew into the bathroom to avoid me—and promptly out the window. But I knew there was another somewhere in the house. We told our children there was a bird in the house and to keep their bedroom doors closed. My wife suggested we ask our oldest son what to do next; he has bought books about dealing with emergencies, surviving in the wild, and so forth.
About a minute later I heard him exclaim “Cool, bats!” He was standing at the end of the hallway pointing at a vent near the ceiling. Hanging on the vent with its wings folded was indeed a bat. I put the laundry hamper over the creature; it helpfully climbed into the webbing. I dragged the hamper with its open end against the floor down the hall and into the bathroom with the open window. I lifted the hamper just outside the window and the animal flew away.
How did a pair of bats get into our house? There had been an opening into our attic, but we had that repaired. I remembered that I had heard what sounded like something hitting the recycling bag we keep downstairs by the back door. At the time, I assumed something shifted and the bag fell over. Now, I was pretty sure the bats had come from downstairs—when I first caught a glimpse of one it was flying away from the stairway—and that suggested they got in through the chimney.
Local regulations require homeowners install fireplace damper clamps to ensure adequate ventilation. Though our chimney has a cap, it was installed many years ago. It's even possible the bats are nesting in the chimney. We have a chimney sweep scheduled for this week.
When I first noticed a winged animal flying in the house, I felt like I was in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Apparently, this is by no means an unheard of occurrence. There are web pages about how to deal with house bats here, here, and here. One thing I learned online was that if such intruders come into contact with people or pets in your house, it’s best to capture them and have them tested; bats are notorious carriers of infectious diseases. Fortunately, all of the bedroom doors were closed and the dog was in its crate when the bats appeared.