What was that noise?….It’s the middle of the night…..There shouldn’t be anything in the bedroom with us….What’s crept in our bedroom in the dark?…Is it going to attack us?…It was very eery and quite spooky!…
Our sheltie, Emma, was on the foot of the bed and she began to growl in a very low voice as though she also sensed something menacing in the dark.
I looked over at the clock and it said 2:00 AM.
As I laid there I ran through all the options in my mind. I knew where my wife and the dog were, so I knew they weren’t making noise or up skulking around in the dark.
As an attorney who does a lot of criminal work and being married to the County Attorney (Prosecutor), I was in the habit of keeping an eye out for unwelcome characters near our house. There had been times when bad guys had made threats as they went through the court system. I would then watch for them in the neighborhood or around town.
While unlikely, at 2 in the morning, many things seem possible in the dark. Maybe someone had broken into the house?!?….
After laying there for a while and listening for the strange noise, the dog began to bark loudly. At this point I couldn’t just lay there, but had to actually get up and turn on the light. As I got out of bed, Andrea asked me if I heard a strange noise in the dark.
Before I could answer her, I tripped over my own shoes and stumbled across the room trying not to fall completely to the floor. This, of course, got Emma fired up and she began to bark non-stop. I yelled at the dog to settle down as I found the light switch by the door.
I switched on the light, which caused me to cover my eyes from the bright light suddenly filling the room.
As my vision cleared, I could see Andrea still laying in the bed, but Emma was standing on the foot of the bed barking at something above her. At first, all I could see was the ceiling fan which we had turned on during the night to keep cool.
This was strange because Emma was used to having the ceiling fan on at night and had never been spooked by it before.
As I watched the fan though, I noticed a small object flying around the fan blades in circles. I was baffled and watched as it weaved back and forth. It finally landing on the top of the window frame and stared at me.
I was stunned as I suddenly realized that this wasn’t your normal house guest. I would have been less surprised if it had been a bird, squirrel, or even a mouse, but staring back at me were the small dark eyes of a…..BAT!
Andrea asked loudly what it was and all I could get out was….BAT!!!
This caused Andrea to respond loudly. The loud voices then made Emma even more rowdy and she jumped off the bed and ran to the window where she tried to stand on her hind legs to get at the bat.
Andrea yelled “How in the hell did a bat get in our bedroom?” To which I replied that I didn’t know. It wasn’t MY bat! She stood up on the bed to get a better look, while Emma continued to try and catch the animal by jumping at it.
Andrea yelled instructions to get rid of it. I was still trying to process the idea that a bat had somehow gotten into our house and bedroom.
I looked around for something to use in catching the animal. As a former park ranger and game warden I had a bit of experience dealing with different wildlife, but this was my first bat.
Since I didn’t have a net handy in the bedroom, I would have to try and get him with a towel from the dirty clothes hamper.
I thought I could throw the towel over him as he was perched on the wall. The problem was that the Sheltie continued to bark.
I tried to hold the towel up and walk nonchalantly past the bat, as though I wasn’t aware he was there. Then as I got up close, I sprang toward him. This caused the dog to jump, bark, and snap at the bat as it flew away.
Apparently my nonchalant walk hadn’t fooled him. Obviously we were dealing with a bat who’d been around enough to not fall for those kind of tricks.
So I went for the direct approach. As the bat flew around the bedroom, I watched it and tried to time it so that I could throw up the towel in front of him and he would fly into it.
Of course bats are pretty good at echo-location so they have a built in radar. This was how he was able to fly around the room in the dark and avoid the ceiling fan. It was also helping him to avoid the towel everytime I’d try to toss it at him.
We went through this process for the better part of a half hour. The dog would bark, Andrea would yell or screech as the bat swooped close to her head, and I would fling the towel at the small flying creature.
Every few minutes the bat would land and cling to the wall. I could see it breathing and could tell it was very stressed….Well that made two of us!
After many attempts, I think the bat must have gotten tired of avoiding the towel, because the half lame idea finally worked. I tossed the towel toward the ceiling where I estimated the bat was headed and he flew into it. The towel then fell to the floor.
I looked at Andrea and she just stood there, wide eyed, as though too scared to move. Down on the floor I looked at Emma who had also stopped barking and stood there motionless. There was no more movement and no chirping noises. The bat must finally be in the towel laying on the floor.
I carefully wadded the towel up to where I could feel him moving. I then grabbed ahold of him and rolled the towel over to where I could see the little brown bat. His little dark eyes staring back at me.
Andrea’s reaction was “Cool”…… and then, “Get rid of it!”
I didn’t want to harm the bat. I was curious because this was my first up close encounter with a bat. He hadn’t done anything to me so I figured I’d just let him go. So I grabbed him by the back of his neck with my right hand. His skin was very stretchy so there was plenty to hang onto.
Partly out of curiosity and partly to try and freak out my wife, I held the bat up as I held onto the back of his neck. I even had her take a picture.
The bat didn’t like being held and flapped his wings as he attempted to get away. I was still being very careful not to injure him.
Finally, he decided he was done with me. Part of having such stretchy skin meant that he could still turn his head even though I had the back of his neck skin in my fingers.
He simply turned his head to the side and bit me on my right index finger.
I watched him do it, but didn’t feel any pain. Blood, however began to ooze from my finger! This wasn’t a Hollywood vampire evil bat with big fangs and a tendancy to turn into Dracula, but a small insect eating neighborhood bat.
Andrea yelled at me to “get rid of it NOW!” So I went to the front door and let him go from the front porch.
I went back inside and washed the bite with peroxide and put some antibiotic ointment on it with a band-aid. We all climbed back into bed and tried to settle down from our andrenaline filled brush with wildlife.
Andrea laid there in the dark and told me I needed to go to the doctor. I told her there was no way I was going all the way to the doctor for such a little bite. I was tough. I could handle it.
I then laid there for the next hour listening to why I should go to the doctor. The next day, to make Andrea feel better, I called the doctor.
To my surprise, when I said “bat bite” they got real concerned. They said I needed to go to the hospital emergency room right away. They then asked if I had kept the bat. I told them I’d let him go. The nurse then said that was unfortunate, because it meant the animal couldn’t be tested for rabies. In other words, they had to assume it had given me rabies and I would have to go through the full round of shots.
As soon as I got off the phone, I went over to the emergency room. I was a little embarrassed that I’d waited and that it was my own fault I got bit. If I hadn’t tried to show off and hold the bat, I wouldn’t have been bit.
Inside the emergency room, the nurse scrubbed my finger and hand with antiseptic. She then looked at me very seriously and said “Now you realize that this will require several shots and you will need to come back several weeks for additional shots.”
I went through the rabies shots many years earlier and assured her that I understood. She then told me that since the bite was to my finger, she would have to inject my finger in both sides as well as straight in through the tip of my finger longways….YOUCH!!
I looked over at the pile of syringes and imagined the needle going through the tip of my finger. I sort of gulped and moaned. It was obvious to the nurse that the “mighty bat catcher” wasn’t that tough, after all. She then said that it might be a little uncomfortable because she had to put so much of the medicine into the small size of my finger. It would make my finger swell up.
Unfortunately the shots were going into my finger so I had to watch as she ran the needle into one side of my finger and then the other. The finger swelled larger and larger as it filled with fluid. The shots stung pretty badly, but I didn’t want to break down in front of this pretty young nurse. She did, however, do a pretty good job considering there wasn’t much area at the end of a finger in which to shove a needle.
She then picked up a new needle and asked me if I was ready for the bad one. I tensed up with anticiaption and weakly said “Go ahead and get it over with.” She then slowly ran the needle into the end tip of my finger. It seemed to go so slowly and I could feel the sting as it drilled through the muscle along the edge of the bone. She then slowly injected the medicine into the finger. By this time it was probably three times it’s normal size.
The nurse could see I was stressing and had to tell me to breath. I had tensed up and held my breath as the needle went in.
She then finished with shots in my shoulders and both thighs. She wasn’t kidding when she said it would be a lot of injections.
I then had to return several times for booster shots. At least the last shots weren’t in the finger, but in my arm.
In the evenings, right at dark, the neighborhood bats will flit about as they ate flying insects in the dusk. I often wonder if one of them is the one that bit me.
I never figured out how he got into our bedroom, so I suppose it could happen again. Luckily, Other than the shots in the finger I came out of the experience in pretty good shape.
Later, though, I began to notice slight changes. I seemed to develop an aversion to garlic and the overwhelming desire to go out at night and sleep during the day. I’m not saying there’s a connection, but………….