Recently we had a surprise visitor in our house. We were sitting in our living room watching TV and all of a sudden my husband said, "There’s a bat!" Sure enough, swooping around and around the living room was a good-sized bat. I instinctively felt the urge to cover my head, even though I know it’s an old wive’s tail that bats want to get entangled in people’s hair. Their sonar is far too good to permit that to happen. I opened the back door and got a broom with the hope of encouraging him to go outside, but instead he flew into our downstairs bathroom, pursued very eagerly by 2 of our cats. I managed to get the cats out of the bathroom, then followed his squeaky, chattering sounds to his hiding place. He really sounded annoyed, and I learned from my daughter who is our family’s bat expert that it probably was a big brown bat. He looked really big flying around in our living room—probably about 5 inches long with a wingspread of about 10 inches. Big brown bats are found throughout the United States and into Canada.

As I looked for him I thought how am I going to find him, but his chattering sounds gave him away. He had flown behind the mirror in the bathroom, and I was able to carefully pick him up(wearing thick gloves, because bats don’t like to be handled and will bite if they can). I would have enjoyed getting a better look at him but he was so unhappy in my grasp that I let him go outside as quickly as I could and he flew off over the house. We haven’t figured out how he got in the house, but bats can squeeze into very small spaces, and since we live in an old house I am sure there are many such places in our house. I felt a real sense of relief that the cats hadn’t injured him, as they snagged him as he was flying in the living room but I was right there and was able to stop them before they could hurt him. The whole experience caused me quite an adrenaline surge but it was really interesting seeing one of these amazing little creatures up so close. They are so important in helping control insect populations that we need to protect them and their habitats, and their natural sonar abilities are truly incredible.