Bats inside the house reveal early morning life

Published 9:07 am Monday, August 16, 2010

Julie Seedorf, Something About Nothing

My friend offered to build me a bat house. This offer came after I invited her to a bat coming-out party at my home at a date to be announced later.

Julie Seedorf

I have a love/hate relationship with bats. I love to sit outside and watch their grace as they fly around the yards in the evening. I hate when they happen to get lost and fly around my family room.

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A few years ago we stayed at a bed and breakfast that had a beautiful huge porch. The house was elevated and at night it was a great pastime to sit on the porch and watch as hundreds of bats flew out of their hiding place at about the same level as the porch. I enjoy bats from a distance.

It was a steamy night. Early in the morning, 3:20 a.m. to be exact, I awoke from a deep sleep. I couldn’t put my finger on the reason for my wakefulness. As my mind wandered while I was waiting for my eyes to close I marveled that this year we did not have our one bat sighting in our home. Our one bat seems to visit us the same week each August. Usually Mr. Bat appears, he is escorted outside, and that is the last we see of any bats the rest of the year.

I was thinking that I knew this year we were going to be bat-free.

All of a sudden I heard the bells jingling on our bedroom door. They got louder. Sam my faithful pooch had to visit the outside, or so I thought. I took note of the time: 3:20 a.m. I rolled off the bed, searched for my slippers as the bell got louder and louder. Finally I opened the door to find Sam prancing and jumping. He was very excited. He ran to the family room. I followed and just as I turned the corner into the kitchen I saw Sam point. Then I saw the shadow and I knew. My thoughts had conjured up Mr. Bat. How does that happen?

I panicked. Sam was in the midst of the dive bombing. I urgently called him and locked us both in the bathroom. I had to save Sam. Where was my cell phone when I needed it? I had to find the bat whisperer. Leaving Sam locked in the bathroom, my heart pounding I slipped out the door. Head down I darted to the bedroom to wake up the bat whisperer. My hero put on his slippers and bravely entered the dining room. The bat whisperer flicked on the light and proudly announced “We don’t have a bat — we have two.” At that point I had to check on Sam in the bathroom to make sure he was OK.

But my bat whisperer needed help. When I heard his call for assistance, I knew I had to leave Sam. Duty called. I ran to the back door and out the back door to the family room door and threw it open so the bat twins could escape to the outside.

It was at that point I realized what an interesting neighborhood I had at 3:20 a.m. I am seldom on my porch at 3:20 a.m. but I might break my sleeping habit to visit the shadowy world of my neighborhood at that time again on another night.

I heard bike spokes. I looked up and people on bikes were traveling down my alley. I looked at the next block and flashlights were walking around a house. Soon lights came on in the house and the neighborhood was alive with voices. Down the street the noise of a car stereo going kaboom was playing into the silence and soon I heard more voices laughing and having fun. A few more minutes and walkers were taking their morning stroll.

I did not know my neighborhood was so alive in the darkness. I would have missed it all if my mind hadn’t conjured up the bats, if Sam would not have woken me up and if the bats had not decided to visit me.

I shut the family room door, bidding goodbye to the bat twins. I let Sam out of the bathroom where he immediately picked up his security bone and paced the floor disappointed that I did not let him be my bat whisperer. He was so traumatized. Everything was back to normal.

The bat twins took me out for an evening in the neighborhood so I have decided to throw a bat coming out party later this month. I will promise to provide lawn chairs, binoculars and plenty of laughter for my friends while we pinpoint the enticing minute crack that seems to call to the bat and want to make it his home.

My friend insists we put a bat house up after we seal the tiny crack. She insists they must have a home. As long as it is not my home, I can generously provide them with a new place to live. The bat whisperer wants to retire from his one-bat-a-year adventure. I promise not to think about bats again in the middle of the night as I struggle with sleep. And Sam will just have to wait for Halloween so he can slay the Halloween bat toys.

Bat facts taken from

1. Bats are the only flying mammals and comprise the second largest order of mammals in the world.

2. A bat’s grasp is strong enough to hold its entire body weight while its body hangs upside down.

3. Along with whales, dolphins, and some shrew species many bats use echolocation (sonar dependent on pulse sounds and echoes) to identify and track prey.

4. Diet: fruits, flowers, leaves, insects, frogs, fish, small mammals, reptiles, blood of vertebrates.

5. Just one insectivorous bat can eat 600 or more mosquitoes in a single hour.

6. Bats live between four and 30 years, depending on species.

7. In the United States nearly 40 percent of our bat species are listed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as endangered species or are candidates for it.

8. Fruit and nectar-eating bats are among the most important seed dispersers and pollinators of tropical rain forest trees and plants.

9. Less than half of 1 percent of bats have rabies.

10. Bats are not blind.

11. Bat babies are called pups.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at Her blog is Listen to KBEW AM radio 1:30 p.m. Sundays for “Something About Nothing.”