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Bats In The Belfry?
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Bats In the Belfry?

Well, not exactly. Let me explain. A rather funny thing occurred to me yesterday, so I thought I’d share it.

Like a lot of old french houses, my main living accommodation is on the first floor, the ground floor being a cellar or cave as they’re called here. Anyway, this is where I keep my tools and stuff and yesterday I happened, for no reason in particular, to glance behind one of the pair old entrance doors and noticed, to my surprise and puzzlement, in the bottom of a white empty 20 litre plastic paint bucket, a tiny pipistrelle bat.

At first, I thought it was dead; it was in the closed-wing hanging posture, but when I gave it a nudge, it moved slightly! What on earth, I wandered, was it doing reposing in the bottom of the bucket and how did it get there?

I’ve always been fascinated by these creatures since an early age (probably spawned from my macabre interest in horror stories and vampires as a kid; who wasn’t?) but I’d never been in close proximity to a live one before at least not that close.

I used to visit a lake, years ago, in the evenings just to watch literally thousands of bats circling above the still water, hunting for insects and some would fly just inches from my head. I knew, unlike some people, that they would never actually get tangled in my hair, that this belief was just a myth.

Returning to my story, as it was bright sunshine at the time of this discovery, I thought it best to leave it where it was and keep a check on it periodically during the day. Each time I looked in the bucket, it had moved a bit, changed its position.

Just before dusk, I went down to see if I could stir it into some action. In picking it up, I was amazed at how light it was, maybe just a few grams, no more.

I wasn’t sure if it would try and bite me but in the interests of scientific study, I decided to take the risk. Although it snarled silently at me, a rather fearsome sight actually and no wonder they have such a bad reputation, it seemed to be too weak to try inflicting injury. What to do?

I then took it upstairs and decided to put it outside on a window sill. It didn’t budge. Then I thought I’d offer it something to drink and put a little water in a plastic bottle top which I then placed in front of its mouth, tipping it slightly. No interest.

I considered for a moment and then thought that maybe milk would be a better idea. This had the desired effect and after perhaps half a dozen gulps, it started to move around a bit.

Then, suddenly, much to my relief, it spread its wings (a span of no more than 5 inches), said "Thanks for that, mate" in batspeak and flew off into the gathering dusk and that was that.

There you are then, not so much bats in the belfry but more a case of a bat in a bucket!

(Couldn't decide which category for this. Might I suggest "Nature" as an additional one?)


Street Talk

Feeding a bat water? Man, around here we have hundreds of them. You would be in bat heaven. Thanks for the article, I was captivated! A short story of my own, after putting on a coat from my porch and getting in my van for a trip to town, I felt a crawling up my arm about 4 miles down the road.... you can guess the rest, lol

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Yeah Shawn, I can guess. Where in the States are you, by the way?

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I am in Minnesota, and I am not quite sure why. :) I am no longer that fond of winter. I just checked out your .org site, you are a very gifted artist Kim.

  
  about 1 decade ago

Thanks Shawn.

  
  about 1 decade ago

What a lovely story Kim, I used to be wary of bats probably because of the vampire associations but I read somewhere that they evolved from mice. Maybe as you're in France you could try a little cheese next time, you might have all his friends round!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Good idea. If there is a next time!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Great story although I am not at all a fan of bats... It seems we all have a bat story to tell after all! Mine was a little bit creepy, like Joan's

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Tell us about it Maria.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Well, it happened a few years ago in a class in the university. A friend of mine and myself entered a room without windows with glass equipment where I don't know how a bat found her way through the door and was sitting on a desk staring at us. My friend started screaming, I was also terrified but so was the poor bat who started flying around like crazy breaking all the glassware in the room. I think the noise made it worse. We got out of the room and trapped it inside. We had to call professional help to get out since no one would risk to catch it. I really never understood how it got into that room! But till this day I feel a bit weird about bats.

  
  about 1 decade ago

Very strange!?

  
  about 1 decade ago

Great story, Kim. First time meetings with bats are always freak-outs--they're simply too strange to take in all at once ('flat bird', for example). And it is important to catch a bat, if it bites you--without a test of the bat, safety requires you get the rabies treatment anyway! So don't worry about getting bit so much as catching the one that bites you. They say a bat can't take off from the floor--it has to have at least SOME air time--a bucket is probably a death sentence to a bat--no air-time AND no room for flapping wings! Thanks for sharing this.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

You're welcome Christopher and thanks for the information; interesting. I wonder how he got in there in the first place.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
Joan S  

I knew this story was going to be good. I'll share my bat story with you. A bat was flying around my office last year and totally traumatized me. I had never seen one before, upclose, that is, and I thought he was a flat bird. When he clung to the wall, I knew he was no bird. Poor little thing was terrified, as was I. I trapped him in the bathroom and closed the door. Was told by the humane groups not to touch him because he might have rabies. Of course, only 1% of bats have rabies. I got professional help getting him out. Didn't realize they'd test him for rabies, and have been feeling guilty ever since. They make weird sounds. It was winter, so I doubt he would have survived anyway. I could have thrown him in the attic, but not with bare hands. I don't think there are bats in the belfry cause it's pretty well sealed. But who knows. It was smart of you to bring the bat upstairs. They need to be high up to take flight. Great story. I loved it. You're brave.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Yes Joan, I sort of knew that bats were a bit dodgey to handle but I think its wellbeing was more of an issue. When I first moved into the house I used to have one that flew around the room for a while in the evenings. Thanks for reading, glad you liked it.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I love the story and am fascinated that it preferred the milk.. I wonder why that would be? I know the French love their wine and cheese could it be that it is a cheese eating bat? maybe you should of offered it a spot of wine... it might have been in the cellar after wine... this story could expand.. the wine loving, cheese eating, bats of the Belfry

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I was slightly tempted to offer it wine for a moment Rob as I didn''t have any cognac! I think the milk was food for it and gave it the necessary sustinence to get it airborne.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Such a sweet story! You even could identify it right away? Amazing. Yes, bats eat bugs... I'm not a fan of mosquitoes so I do indeed appreciate bats.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Pity they don't eat flies Cynthia, or don't they?

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

(laughing) That would be useful, wouldn't it?

  
  about 1 decade ago
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