Is there a tennis racket in the home?

It’s 5:30:ish. Just a bit of gray dawn bleeds through my window. I get out of bed and walk halfway to the bathroom when something goes fluttering by my head.

I think. Without my glasses, I’m blind as a… well, wait for it.

I go back into my bedroom, put my glasses on and head back across my apartment toward the bathroom.

Flutter. Flap. Flight. Right there in my kitchen.

It’s a bat, but it’s the biggest bat I’ve ever encountered. It is big enough to swallow a California Condor without chewing. It is the killer whale, the leviathan of bats and it’s ducking and wheeling through my 500 square foot apartment.

I flick on some lights and run (yes, very much like a small, frightened child) into my bedroom. I grab a blanket and hold it up over the door frame. Our territories defined, I have a chance to breathe and swallow some of the adrenaline swishing between my teeth.

I lower the blanket a couple inches and peer into the living room, which the bat is also exploring by flying in circles. It lands and I can see that it is not, in fact, the size of a ’48 Lincoln.

As it crawls under my oven, I think it’s almost cute. The opening of this mental door allows a flood of other completely useless information: bats are getting killed off by a fungus called “white nose syndrome,” they use echolocation to find their prey and fly skillfully in little light, I’ve done stories about bats, I even stuck my hand – holding a microphone – into a bat house on Fort Drum.

I clearly have no idea what to do. I put on a pair of shorts, my flip flops, grab my cell phone and walk outside.

I leave my door open long enough to watch a swarm of mosquitoes fly in and zero bats fly out. A skunk and rabbit appear in the yard, both transparently ogling my open door.

I am not ready to let the natural world “reclaim” my apartment. I shut the door and call the non-emergency number for the village police.

“Uh, yeah, I didn’t know who to call but there’s a bat in my house.”

“Are you in the home?”

“No, no. I’m outside.”

“Is there a tennis racket in the home?”

“No.” Tennis racket? “Are you serious?”

“I’ll send someone over.”

Great. “Thanks.”

Sure enough, not 10 minutes later, a member of Canton’s finest pulls in the driveway and gets out of the car, tennis racket in hand.

He goes in, bravely. But comes out a few minutes later and says, “I can’t find him.”

“Did you see him at all?”

“No. I didn’t see anything. I didn’t hear any peeping either.”

“There is a bat in here.”

“I believe you, I just can’t find him.”

We walk through the apartment as he explains bat behavior when they’re trapped inside. They like to be high, close to the ceiling and usually hang on drapes, clothes or on blinds.

But those three words keep going through my head: I believe you.

I don’t think there’s anything anyone could say to me that would make me question my own senses more.

I did see the bat, right?

The officer got in touch with animal control and wrote down the number for me before driving away.

I saw the bat, I heard it brush against a small wind chime hanging in the kitchen. I heard it crawl under the stove.

Animal control is coming around today to find it. What if they don’t?

All in all, it’s been a most unsettling morning.

10 Comments on “Is there a tennis racket in the home?”

  1. Dale Hobson says:

    The tennis racket technique works pretty well, if you’re not too worried about what happens to the bat. The nylon strings don’t echo, but the hoop does. The bat tries to fly right through. I’d recommend a lighter device, like a badminton racket and a gentle serve. Better would be a fish landing net or a butterfly net–works the same way. Blankets, boxes, brooms and other more solid objects will only work by speed and luck. Those suckers can turn on a dime and give you 9 cents change.

  2. Salty says:

    Kill them, kill them all. Sure people say they do so much good. After the series of shots from one scratching me, all I can say is, kill them all.

  3. Martha Foley says:

    Bats used to end up flying the hallways of the “old” WSLU fairly often. We were in an old classroom building on the St. Lawrence campus. They probably lived in the attic, or flew in the big open, unscreened windows after moths. Who knows? …anyway, they’re disconcerting, but don’t really deserve death by tennis racket just because of that. We learned to call Ken Crowell, then a biology professor at SLU (now retired). He use a fishnet — it was a catch and release program.

  4. Jackie Sauter says:

    Years ago when the radio station was located in another building and I worked evenings as an announcer with a live classical show we used to have to keep the fire escape door open to get some airflow on hot summer nights. Now and then a bat would fly in to my office or into the control room. My bat removal method of choice was a lacrosse stick and an old Rolling Stones LP. I’d trap the bat with the lacrosse stick on the wall and then slide it on to the Mick Jagger cover, then walk it down to the open door and let it fly away. After a while I got pretty efficient at it and was able to return the bat to freedom and put away the Stones LP before the classical piece playing on air came to an end and I had to go on air again. Some years later I did get bit by a bat, at home, when I stuck my hand into a garbage can and surprised the little guy. Now with so many mosquitoes around this summer I wish we were seeing more bats around..at least outdoors…

  5. buddy says:

    When I worked at GM, We had all sorts of critters come in the plant and join us, Bats were pretty regular, Also I saw at least one Muskrat come walking in the door too, Also Once I saw what I believed was a sharp shinned hawk chasing pigeons around up in the rafters,The next day there were pigeon feathers all over the place, I’d also heard stories of a coyote,a deer and a beaver witnessed by others over the years, I can understand a Bat taking refuge in your attic or house, But I could never understand any animal voluntarily coming into that plant with all the noise,Heat and dirt………..But they did.

  6. Look at the bright side, Jonathan….at least he’ll eat the swarm of mosquitoes that got in when you left the door open! :-)

  7. Pete Klein says:

    The best thing is to open windows and doors to let it out. They don’t want to be in your house. It came in by accident when a window or door was open.
    Happened to me once and it left shortly after I opened the door for it to leave.
    I remember think its radar must be pretty good because it flew around so fast but never ran into anything.

  8. Sunshine says:

    Many years ago, whilst visiting my son in Lake Placid, we were walking home after viewing a late movie. Near his abode I saw
    what I thought was a rather large swarm of birds and commented that I didn’t know that birds flew during the night.
    #1 biologist son said: “Mom, those aren’t birds, they’re bats.”

  9. sandy condlin says:

    too funny…..i recently heard stories about you northern’ers, bats in your homes and police w/tennis rackets!

  10. katy kat says:

    It is the most unsettling thing, knowing a bat came in and you didn’t get it out. Around 2:30 Saturday morning a bat was flying around the house. I trapped it in a bedroom and went to call animal control. However, I then heard it in the air flow return and figured animal control couldn’t get it out. So I waited until morning, searched the room and no sign of the bat. I’m wondering could it get out or would it get suck down to the air filter? Does anybody know?

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