Sunday, February 28, 2010

Animal news

My friend C has been having problems with bats. They wrangle their way into her house at night and fly around her bedroom, waking her up. What will they do, where will they land, if she falls asleep again--or if she stays awake? Sometimes she sleeps with the lights on.

Back in January, a bat visited C in the middle of the night. She called the pest control company the next day. She kept her friends posted, reporting that "today an amazing man with very few teeth, three missing fingers, an impenetrable NC accent, and an extensive knowledge of bats tried to figure out how the bat got in: through the tiny gap in the door to attic crawl space, he thought, 'cause they don't got no bones in them.'" The company later performed their bat-proofing service on her house.

Two weeks ago, another bat visited. C heard it scratch its way inside, and then she heard it squeaking as it flew around her dark bedroom. She slept on the sofa. In the morning, her youngest son told her there was a bat on his shelf. They locked the animal in his room, putting a towel along the bottom of the door so it couldn't squeeze out. The pest control bat tech came back. He assured C she didn't need to worry: the scary bat in her son's room was made of rubber. He promised to check for gaps in the bat-proofing.

This past Tuesday, another bat dropped in around dinnertime. C was determined to "be brave for the children." As she and her two sons stood outside the house with the front door open, waiting for the bat to fly out, she beleagueredly explained all the reasons the bat should be more afraid of them than they were of it.

In an effort to be sympathetic about the bats, I told C about our occasional mice. Even when you're 3000 times heavier than a diminutive, fluffy rodent, there's still something disconcerting about having one skitter along the floorboards at night.

Generally, our mice hang out inside the wall in our study, just above the north-facing window. We haven't had any inside the house since 2007, when our cats proved to be useless hunters. "Here kitty kitty," I called when a mouse and I surprised one another on the stairs late at night. The cats trotted over, observed the mouse, and then moved on to more important things like sleeping.

To the cats' credit, several years ago they did manage to wound a mouse in the kitchen. The injured mouse escaped to a dark sheltered spot, breathed its last pitiful diminutive breaths, and shortly thereafter started to decompose, its odor eventually guiding us to its earthly remains underneath the refrigerator.

Apparently, the ghost of that dead mouse overheard me talking sympathetically to C about bats. To avenge its death years ago, and in home-invading solidarity with its winged cousins, it guided a descendant out of the walls and into the house.

The new mouse arrived two weeks ago--the day of the rubber bat--skittering past the radiator next to the front door. With macho pride, S caught it with his bare hands and tossed it outside.

It came back. Last weekend, E found it next to the catfood dish in the kitchen. He and S threw a towel over it and took it outside.

The third time's the charm. Last night, as I was sitting quietly in the kitchen, cutting holes in a Klein Bottle, our geriatric black cat, Homer, leapt with feline ferocity into the gap between the oven and one of the cabinets. I listened to adrenaline coursing through his veins. After a few minutes, I heard a sudden banging from behind the appliance, and then--silence. Homer emerged with a dark gray mouse dangling from his mouth.

My response, of course, was to skedaddle. When I returned to the kitchen, there sat Homer, nonchalant, his job done. There was no sign of the mouse. Presumably we'll smell our way to its corpse in a few days.

In other animal news, with the onset of warmer weather and sunnier days, my friend R's chickens have started laying eggs. R has loved and nurtured the chickens from the moment she picked up the hatchlings in a big peeping box at the post office months ago. Now all grown up, the nine chickens roam freely in her rural back yard, relatively oblivious to all the hard work she and her son Ie have put into building them a coop, feeding them, watering them, and bravely defending them from the jibes of Ms. Crazy Lady, the next door neighbor who doesn't understand the meaning of love. Oblivious though they may be, the chickens have thrived from all this doting attention. The first two eggs--warm brown and pastel blue--arrived on Saturday and will head to school with Ie on Monday so he can show his buddies the rewards of months of serious chicken husbandry.


Robin said...

We've had both a bat (just one, thankfully) and many mice in our house this year. My husband is allergic to cats, so I was reduced to laying traps, as they had figured out how to get into some of the kitchen cabinets. I hated that.

I'm enjoying your blog. I bet there's lots in bloom down in NC while we're still in the cold, gray throes of winter here in IL.

mom2homer said...

Thanks Robin!

Trapping vermin isn't fun. Our experience with that is limited to roach motels and observing a neighbor's failed effort at trapping a marten in Germany last fall.

The crocuses are out in full force, although the gods of winter and spring are still duking it out. Snow this past Tuesday, sunny and in the 60s tomorrow.