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Bats & Balusters

March 21, 2014

Have you seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks? If not, you should. It’s entertaining and makes me want to own a brass bed.  It also inspired the title of this post, Bats and Balusters. Now, unlike the movie this post doesn’t involve magic or saving England, but it does involve flying and architectural details. That counts, right?

So…..we have bats. Just writing that is like coming to terms with a problem we have been denying for a while, but can’t anymore…like I am at my first meeting of vermin anonymous.

“Hi, my name is Rachel and I have bats. I have a problem. I renovate old houses…it’s a compulsion. More often than not, there are unwanted pests in the homes we renovate. Recently, the problem has escalated, and now….we have bats.”

OK, OK….it’s not that bad. I actually think bats are really cute. Like little furry mice with wings. They also make cute sounds. Well, actually the sounds are only cute when it is the middle of the day and you and your cat are in the basement looking for the correct wrench to take apart the kitchen sink, and then you hear light chirping from the corner of the room towards the ceiling and realize the bats have woken up….again. The cat proceeds to go crazy and you look around with a flashlight to find them or it, with no luck because no one ever finds a bat this way, and then give up and leave the cat to search it out.

Clearly these are fruit bats of some sort, but they are super cute so I used the picture. http://idreaminacres.typepad.com/blog/2011/03/how-could-you-not-love-bats-warning-cute-overload.html

Bat sounds are not cute when you are home alone, and it’s 1am on Saturday, and you are sitting on the couch blogging and looking up nonsense on Pinterest because now that you are an adult this a totally acceptable way to spend the weekend. Suddenly you hear squeaking and chirping and scratching sounds coming from the corner. The cat and dog rush over, noses to the floorboards to check out whatever it is that is making that noise. You, frozen in your spot on the couch, zip through the internet with searches consisting of, ” scratchy sounds in floor, old house, winter, pests”. Surprisingly there are a lot of hits, and after bravely crawling across the floor with your iPhone to record the squeaks and chirps, you confirm that you have bats.

You then proceed to go upstairs and lie awake in bed thinking about the bats hanging out in the floor joists and wall cavities. ::shiver::

This winter has been a rollercoaster of subzero and balmy temperatures. Apparently the bats hunker down in the attic during the autumn months, and as the temperatures dip they move further down into the wall cavities to stay warm. When the temperatures rebound for a day or two, the bats wake up, stretch their wings and pop out for a drink of water before returning to snooze away the winter. The instances that I heard them chirping in the walls and floor was always just after a brief warming in temperatures.

What to do about it? Well nothing up until now. It was winter and there is no way to get them out of the house without killing them, which is mean since they really aren’t doing anything and it’s also illegal. Once things warm up completely and the bats are done hibernating, I will have to figure out where they are getting in and out. One-way doors can be fashioned over their entrances so they can leave for the evening, but not come back. Basically I have to evict them without notice. Adding some bat boxes to the larger trees in the backyard will be a plan this summer, because after all, they are pretty cute AND they eat mosquitos. As long as they aren’t trying to be unwelcome house guests, I would be happy for them to ‘hang around’. :)

Oh, about the balusters. Per usual, I knocked a few holes in the wall – this time on the landing – where I thought there might have been hidden balusters that were covered up with drywall. This was a negative. This time I did the damage when the Hubs was home, so I had to use a drill with a spade bit to make it cleaner and not so destructive. It was a fair compromise since hanging a picture 2 feet off of the ground to cover the hole I would have made with a hammer would look strange. Sure I can patch, sand, and paint any hole that I make – I’m a pro at it now. You know what though, I intend to take down the 1/2 wall and put up balusters one day, so why patch something I plan to demolish? Also, the current holes are perfect for bat watching. :)

Cheers,

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Danny permalink
    April 1, 2014 8:50 AM

    I really enjoy your Blog after I stumbled on it a few months ago. I’ve used it for some inspiration in remodeling my old house. I found this post especially amusing. I recently caught 2 bats, each about a month apart that made it into the living space of my home from the attic. I waited for them to land and placed a box over them slipping a piece of cardboard over the top to seal each one in. I then had the local animal control come pick them up and test them for rabbies. Only 1% of them carries rabbies but I’d rather be safe than sorry. If they’ve gotten into the living space of your house and may have come in contact with a person or animal, I’d suggest trying to catch them and have them tested.

    • April 6, 2014 9:33 AM

      Danny,

      Thanks for your comment. I don’t think we will try to catch them, and like you said the chance of rabies is really low so I’m not worried about it. I’ve heard people have had a lot of success with the one way doors, so we are going to give that a go.

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