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Bats in the Belfry

October 2, 2008 - Brian Ferry
I was wandering about the Times Observer office the other day when a co-worker stopped me in the hall and informed me there was a bat in the women's restroom.

So, having experience with freeing little brown bats from the premises*, I assumed the mantle of little brown bat extricator (a mantle that was temporarily taken from me).

** One Sunday evening, I was the first one in the building. As I walked around turning on the necessary lights, I noticed a little cube of brownness on the floor of the hall (almost exactly where Hillary was standing when she informed me of the second bat, now that I think of it). I walked past, thinking nothing of it. On my return past that point in the hall, I noticed the cube of brownness looked to be made of fur. I decided that it probably was, or had been, alive, and dedicated myself to removing from the high-traffic area. I put the clear cylinder from a spindle of CD-Rs over the cube. It didn't move. I got a small paper plate and slid it between the floor and the cylinder. When the edge of the plate got to the brownness, the cube shape went away, replaced by what was, without question, a bat. I finished the procedure with the plate, and put the fully contained bat on my desk. I had written a story about rabies mere weeks before the incident and remembered that any bat found inside should be turned in for rabies testing. I made some calls. It was Sunday. It took a long time to track anyone down. I eventually was told to release the poor creature. Bats found in buildings where people sleep must be turned in. Our office didn't count. Still, I didn't want to open the spindle with my hands and watch the bat fly away. I set the whole assembly in the dumpster (for two reasons: I wouldn't have to go back and pick up the spindle to throw it away, and the metal sides would protect me from the direct line of sight (radar?) of the bat.**

So, I took a look. The critter was hanging there minding its own business, not acting strangely. It was under a ledge and appeared to be sleeping. I started looking for something to put over it. I grabbed a CD spindle cylinder. But, the bat was in a corner and the round object would not work.

By this time, two other employees, no less august personages than the director of circulation and the publisher himself, had joined me in the effort to remove the bat from the building.

We found a small box that would fit the nook the bat was hanging it and I entrapped the bat. The thin object (akin to the plate in my earlier adventure) did not fit the nook. The publisher held the box in place while the rest of us (we had dragged another chap from the circulation department into the effort) looked for a better sliding implement. It took a few minutes but we got one.

This time, the circulation director (who I will call Bob for the purposes of this story) held the box and slid the cover into position.

I had, earlier, ascertained that some portion of the bat (wing arms, I think) was not within the confines of the box. When Bob slid the box down the wall to drag the bat into a better position, he noticed the bat was no longer contained. There was some alarm at this announcement, but Bob quickly removed the box entirely from the wall. (Yes, this was terribly helpful.) He peeked quickly into the box and said, "The bat is not in the box." He then took a closer look and changed his mind.

Yes, the little brown bat was in the box. An impromptu plastic lid was holding it in. I took the box and walked outside. I dropped the whole thing in the dumpster, making sure to rotate the box a little as I released it to: 1. disorient the bat and 2. separate the lid from the box and allow the creature to escape.

As far as I know, this time, there was no one in the office who physically hid under a desk during this ordeal. That is a story for another time.


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