Friday, April 29, 2011

Old-Fashioned, Continued

A couple years ago, Derek and I spent an eventful night battling bats.  The next morning, we woke up tired but victorious. 

As I was helping my daughter get dressed for the day, she told me about a dream she'd had the night before, about a bird that was flying around her room, then came down and bit her.  One of the bats had been in her room the night before, so I had a mini- heart attack when she said those words and immediately got online to try and figure out my next course of action. 

Amid all this searching and googling, I discovered many interesting facts about the little brown bat- the type we believe invaded our house.

  • They can enter spaces as small as 1/4 inch.
  • It flies at speeds of 4-21 miles per hour.
  • It can consume up to 600 insects per hour, and feeds 1-5 hours per night. 
  • It eats bugs like mosquitos, corn earworm, and other crop pests.
At this point I started to feel bad.  I felt even worse when I learned that the little brown bat is a protected species. 

Then I read (from several reputable sites, not just Wikipedia) that bats are known carriers of rabies, and that their teeth are so small that bite marks are often invisible.  I further learned - from a helpful flow chart provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health- that Adelaide may need a series of vaccines.

Rabies vaccines.

This information assuaged my guilt.

I called the Department of Public Health, and spoke to a delightful women who told me in no uncertain terms that Adelaide would, in fact, need a series of seven shots to make sure she didn't develop rabies.  She then took down my name, address, and phone number so that she could follow up and make sure we had vaccinated our daughter.

We spent the next month taking Adelaide into the doctor's office every few days for her shots.  She began to cry every time she found out we were driving in to Ames:  "I don't want to get rabies shots!" 

I spent the next few days cleaning the small amounts of bat guano I kept finding on the walls.

We had two more bats fly through our house in the next few weeks.  I tried to remind myself they eat lots of icky bugs, but I had trouble mustering any sympathy for them. 

Six weeks after the first incident, we had Batman (okay, a nice man from Complete Wildlife Control) come out and insert one-way valves at various points on the roof of our house.  Bats can exit through these valves but can't get back in. 

Batman informed us that houses made before World War II usually have something like 18 inches of space in between the floors, and the bats were getting in through the entrance points in our roof, traveling down the walls, and getting into this space in between the first and second floors of our house.  They were then entering the living area of the house through my beloved pocket doors. 

I still love our old house, but I now approach the pocket doors with some trepidation any time we go to open or close them.  I don't want to get rabies shots, either.

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