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    January 30, 2013

    Bat Saga

    If you follow me on Twitter you could not escape the Bat Tweets today. I'm sorry. BUT YOU GUYS. The bat! It was ridiculous! It is STILL ridiculous. I cannot believe we arranged an entire day around, and my husband missed an entire day of work because of, a STUPID BAT.

    Around two in the morning Phillip got up to investigate a noise in the bathroom. Silly me, I thought he was getting up to deal with the Insomniac Baby who starts talking to herself around two or three and doesn't stop for at least an hour. But no, he thought Jack had come upstairs to use OUR bathroom, but the noises were weird, so he got up - and then he was turning on lights and banging doors and I was all, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU CRAZY MAN."

    He slams the door and looks at me. "So," he says. "There's a bat in our bathroom."

    While Emma yammered in the background, we both Mulled The Implications. 

    It wasn't in a place where he could trap it (hiding in a heap of bath toys) (which are now in the garbage) (ugh). If he shooed it out it could fly anywhere in our house. We didn't have a net or anything to catch it with. Besides, Phillip was afraid it would bite him. 

    He left the lights on, both doors shut, got back in bed and began to Google. What else would we do?

    The bathroom is a little weird - one end opens into the hallway and the other opens into our bedroom. It's the only bathroom on the upper floor AND it has a super high ceiling with a skylight. It's pretty if you ignore the cobwebs. Phillip assumed the bat somehow flew in from the attic? But how did it get in the attic? In the middle of the night he left messages for pest control services and in the morning I said, "Um, no, you aren't going to work today and leaving me with VERMIN ON THE LOOSE."

    We used the bathroom downstairs. We told the kids the toilet was broken. I made Phillip sneak in and get my contacts, but otherwise we kept the doors shut. We didn't want to wait for anyone to call us back, so Phillip called again, and a man from Critter Control promised to be at our house between ten and noon. 

    Twitter warned me that Vermin Catchers were chatty and the Bat Man did not disappoint. In the span of five or six minutes I learned everything I never wanted to know about bats. However! He located and caught the bat within minutes and duct taped it into a coffee cup he had in his truck. 

    Why didn't you just get RID of it? you are asking. Throw it outside! Well, because the Bat Man made a Very Big Deal about getting it tested for rabies. It was that or immediately go to the clinic and begin the series of rabies shots for the entire family. The chance was low, he promised, but STILL. STILL. WHAT IF? These are your BABIES! AAAAUUUUGGGHHHH!

    It sems like this is the sort of thing pest control should do FOR you, but no, we got to KEEP the bat. He left the bat on our PORCH. In its coffee cup HOUSE. (Well, first he checked out the attic and the roof and nope, no bat colonies here and OMG BAT COLONIEEEEEEEESSSSS.)

    He told us to call Seattle Public Health. And this is where everything gets RIDICULOUS. 

    Seattle Public Health was very sorry about our bat, but they didn't think it needed to be tested for rabies. Phillip demanded to know why not. Well there are requirements and restrictions for doing such testing and if we weren't DIRECTLY EXPOSED to the bat, there was no need. Phillip explained that we didn't KNOW if we were directly exposed. What if it  LANDED on one of the CHILDREN during the NIGHT and seriously, I was dry heaving as he had this heated conversation. 

    Phillip and the SPH lady went back and forth and because she felt sorry for us in our Bat-Ridden Plight, she agreed that as it was found in the Master Bathroom which is technically part of the Master Bedroom, she could say it was "flying around in our room" and we were "directly exposed", but she'd have to the argue the point to her superiors and get back to us. 

    Oh! And if they DID agree to test it, we would have to drive the bat to Kent (waaaaay south of us), have it humanely euthanized, and then drive to Shoreline (north of us) to have it tested. !!!

    While we waited to see if they'd agree to test it, Phillip decided to call a vet and see if THEY could euthanize it. (I didn't know this part.) "Uhhhh..." they said. "Uhhhh...." Then they told him to call Animal Control. (WHY DIDN'T THE BAT MAN JUST TELL US TO CALL ANIMAL CONTROL.)

    So! Animal Control said, "Hey, we'll euthanize your bat! AND we'll deliver it to Shoreline for testing!" Then they wanted our information and they'd call us back. Note: Animal Control? MUCH CLOSER THAN KENT. Note: I WAS UNAWARE OF THIS PHONE CALL. 

    But. They never called back. Phillip sat around wondering what to do about our bat. I was ignoring this to the best of my ability, except for when I had something exciting to tweet. 

    Then SPH called and said they agreed to test our bat. OH THANK YOU FOR THE LOVELY FAVOR, SPH. But we had to euthanize it first and deliver it to the lab "packaged properly". I do not have ANY desire to know what that means. 

    Animal Control still hadn't called. (Note: I DID NOT KNOW THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO CALL.)

    Around 3 Phillip decided that he better just drive the stupid bat to Kent so he'd have time to drive it back up to Shoreline before the lab closed. Me = still ignoring everything. Me = wondering why he can't go pick up Jack on his way to deliver the bat. Me = disbelieving that a bat, a MOUSE-LIKE BAT, has put a total stop to Cheung Daily Production.

    Phillip left with the bat. Two minutes later I hauled the girls to school and fetched Jack. When we got home, Phillip's car was in the driveway. He was in the house talking on the phone. I stood at the top of the stairs and shouted, "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON PHILLIP CHEUNG!"

    "Animal Control is coming to get the bat!"

    "WHAT"

    "They're coming to PICK UP THE BAT!"

    Oh you guys. This is so stupid. Animal Control didn't call Phillip, but Seattle Public Health DID, in the car, right before he got on the freeway, to tell him that Animal Control was coming to get the bat. How SPH linked up with Animal Control I AM STILL VERY CONFUSED ABOUT THIS. I was sort of stuck on the part where someone was driving across town to my house to pick up a half-dead BAT.

    I MEAN, REALLY?!

    And it's not like it started to make sense after that. I know Phillip is reading this and dying to explain how SPH knew about Animal Control and he DID tell me but I'M STILL NOT CLEAR  BUT ANYWAY. Phillip had a half hour conversation with the Animal Control girl in our driveway, who was holding our bat in something that looked like an oatmeal cannister about three feet away from her body. GOD KNOWS WHAT THEY WERE DISCUSSING. But Phillip came inside and said he had to FOLLOW THE BAT. 

    I KNOW, INTERNET. I KNOW. IT'S A BAT.

    Apparently he had to give Animal Control twenty minutes or so to kill the bat, I mean Humanely Euthanize the bat, THEN he could go pick it up and take it to the lab in Shoreline. (They told him they would deliver the bat on the phone, but I guess they mixed that up with "we will pick up your bat from your house".) 

    Meanwhile I am thinking: TAXPAYER DOLLARS AT WORK. 

    So Phillip left again, a bit later, for Animal Control in Interbay (for you locals playing along) to pick up a dead bat. Then he made it to the lab in Shoreline at 4:55 PM, five minutes before it closed. 

    All this to find out if a bat, which should not even be flying around in January, and did not come from a Bat Colony in our attic, and which is the size of a teeny mouse, which (we are fairly certain) was NOT flying around our house and landing on each individual family member in their beds, and living in an area in which rabies is not common, HAS RABIES. So that WE CAN KNOW THAT WE ARE NOT EXPOSED. 

    I realize that rabies is a big deal. But this just seems wildly SILLY to me. Who knew that catching the bat would be infinitely easier than deciding what to do with the bat post-catch? 

    So! Let us all fervently pray that this bat is not one of the lucky five percent that have rabies because OH GOD if I have to add "Now we're all getting rabies shots" to this blog post I'll have to also add a padded cell to my house. 

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    Comments

    I am so sorry, but I've got the giggles... Bats! Rabies! Weird miscommunications leading to bizarre Monty-Python-esque day! (And I fervently hope y'all are in the clear...)

    CRAZY! Also, I saw your tweet saying Philip was heading to the lab with the bat and the whole time I was reading this I was waiting for there to be a SECOND bat (as I thought the Vermin Catcher, then animal control were taking the first one). I am so glad there were not two bats.

    I love this whole post. And I am DYING for Phillip to come into the comments and leave his version of the whole story! C'mon, Phillip! Tell us your side of things!

    True story: We lived in the country, and there were lots of little fruit bats that used to live in the trees near our house. One of them got into the house somehow and started wreaking havoc. My parents' ceilings are REALLY tall, and my dad had to use a long-handled broom to swat at the bat. He managed to... wound it (which left a mark on the ceiling that was there for YEARS until they got it professionally repainted) and it fell to the ground where our CAT pounced on it and ran away with it. So the initial bat chase became a cat-with-bat chase and it was pretty horrible.

    But! No rabies!

    Hoping your bat is likewise rabies-free.

    Holy crap.

    Your day was so infinitely more interesting. BATS! Not that I wish for that kind of day, no no no! Just enjoyed the story! Hope you can recover with chocolate!

    I'm sorry, but your tweets made my day today. But I will retract that if you end up needing rabies shots. And I will feel guilty. Glad it was resolved in the end and here's to a bat-free night of sleep tonight.

    Oh, Mighty Maggie! We had a vermin-infested day with finding out about a rat infestation in our car this morning (we don't use it all that often, except to go to church, but we had to skip church because of flu so we didn't use it for almost 3 weeks), o woe, but your day with the flying vermin and stupid bureaucrats sounds way worse.

    I am on my third glass of wine tonight after putting the kids to bed and trying to forget this day. I think I need to open another bottle.

    Also, Go Phillip!

    Would a another bat story help you feel better?

    So, one night a long time ago now, my sister (who was maybe 5 or 6) woke up in the middle of the night to see a bat hanging from her ceiling fan. After getting over her initial petrification, she ran out of her room. And promptly remembered that her bear was still in there (Bear, to this day 20 some years later, is very precious). She worked up the courage to rescue bear and then went for Dad. Dad, being brilliant, let our cat inside and the two of them stalked the bat. Cat caught bat and held it down while my Dad ... euthanized it. Victory! (As we are country people, the thought of getting it tested for anything did not cross our minds, no rabies).

    I will be crossing my fingers for a rabies and bat free day for you.

    This is so unsettling.

    My parents get bats in their house periodically and we never had them tested for rabies (nor did we get rabies...to our knowledge).

    We also didn't humanely euthanize them...unless you count dropping a piece of firewood on them to be humane...most don't.

    My dad uses some kind of combination of gloves, towel and net to catch them usually. I don't ask for details because I don't want to know.

    We don't visit there often.

    Sorry Maureen. I don't know if I have more to add. But in my recollection of the story (and how I will tell it in the future), the bat was the size of a small dog. Oh, and in my version I will have big biceps.

    This is one of those truth-stranger-than-fiction moments. Perhaps your experience will cause SPH and Animal Control to rewrite their procedures manuals in order to know what to do the NEXT time a bat shows up in someone's bathroom. In other news, I seriously think that pest control companies should offer this whole kill/test service, or at least delivery to the kill/test sites. At an extra charge, maybe, but seriously, wouldn't you be willing to pay that charge to avoid the whole second half of that harrowing day?

    Thankful to have had a very boring day yesterday, compared to yours!!

    I'm also of the opinion (being a farm girl) that a spring-loaded mousetrap is a humane way to kill a mouse (quick-dead, no suffering), so I think I would have opted for a large rock or a whack with a shovel. Of course, my Dad (ever the practical farmer) thought humane disposal of unwanted litters of kittens was the business end of his work boot, so, make of that what you will.

    They're CHATTY, right? We had a mouse IN OUR HOUSE and a rat in our backyard - on separate occasions - and I know entirely too much about the size of their droppings and what they'll eat and where they'll hide. Also, the fact that you haven't burned your house down shows that you are infinitely stronger than I will ever be.

    Wow, that's a day there. And I am glad you are having it tested because a kid from my high school died of rabies a few years ago because HE FORGOT TO TELL HIS PARENTS THAT A BAT FLEW INTO HIS BEDROOM AND BIT HIM.

    My parents had a bat living in their curtains and flying around their room at night some forty years ago. I believe my dad hit it with a (ha!) bat.

    Bats are SO creepy! We had one that lived on our porch for a while and it gives me the shudders just to think about it.

    And Jen, that is the CRAZIEST STORY EVER.

    Maybe you are too young to remember this, but the governor's family (with young children) had to move out of the mansion to have it cleared of bats.

    Oh...my...goodness! What a crazy, nerve wracking day you had! I am really glad that the bat is being tested because only one person has ever survived rabies, and that was after a very long coma and severe brain damage. Better safe than sorry! All I could think as I read was, OF COURSE you need the bat tested! What is wrong with those SPH people? I will pray it all works out for you. No rabies.

    I am now terrified of bats. EEEEEEEeeeeek!

    Holy goodness. A BAT. This sounds rather like our (multiple) adventures with squirrels in our last house - being locked out of my own bedroom while a squirrel made himself at home - but a BAT is much worse, IMHO. Also, we didn't have to worry about rabies. I would have wanted the guy tested too, though admittedly I might also be like, "no visible bites? let's call it good"... but given how bad rabies can be, your way is probably better.

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