Spring is here. And the attic noises have returned.
Our family is fortunate that we moved into our own home nearly two years ago. Before then, we took full advantage of being able to report any and all issues to the landlord.
As novice homeowners we miss the luxury of passing the baton. Now, when pesky problems pop up, we are left to solve them. Like when the furnace went out, or the living room lights flickered, or . . . when we started hearing attic noises.
It was a warm December night. As we laid down for bed I heard it above my head.
A rustle. A scamper. A screech.
I bolted upright in bed, hoping it was my imagination, but I heard it again.
Squeak. Scamper. Squeak.
What could it be? Visions of mice and squirrels chewing attic insulation bounced in my brain. I started to sweat as I thought about a rabid raccoon using its dexterity to claw through the wall and launch itself on to my sleeping face.
My imagination was out of control.
How could I relax? How could I sleep? How could I live with this mystery guest right above my head?
That’s when my more rational husband began to Google, searching online for hints about whom or what was dwelling in our attic.
As he fixated on his phone I decided to take action. I would bang the ceiling wall and scare the creature out. Unaware of my new mission, my husband began to search for animal sounds to help match the noise in the attic.
As his thumb hit play, my fist hit the ceiling.
“SCREECH. SCREECH. SCREECH.”
My voice curled in a terrified scream. I dropped to the floor. My hands shielded my head.
“OH MY GOD!” my husband yelled. “It was me. It wasn’t the animal. It was me!”
He reassures me this wasn’t his intention. He was just trying to identify the invader.
I pull my pathetic self off the floor, realizing that at least for the next day we’ll have an unwelcome houseguest.
The Next Day
The next day I phone an exterminator, begging for answers. I tell him I’m convinced it’s a ferociously fat raccoon.
“Well that’s probably the best case scenario,” he explains. “It’s relatively inexpensive to remove a raccoon.”
“Bats are the priciest and more common problem,” he says.
Bats? That notion suddenly becomes much creepier.
His truck rolls up to the house and relief washes over. Knowing what it is will be better. He spends an hour poking and prodding and searching. The verdict is in.
“It’s bats,” he states simply. “Best case: it is one or two bats. Worst case: it’s a pregnant bat.”
Shivers run up my spine as I envision two-dozen baby bats swishing and swopping in our attic.
I ask him how we can right this very, very wrong.
It turns out bats aren’t short-term visitors.
Bats are very important for our ecosystem, and are protected in the state of Iowa. Removing them in the winter would be a death sentence. I learn the bats will be setting up a temporary home in our attic until spring, unless they move into the living quarters.
Our exterminator [AKA bat guru] seals off our soffits to block more bats from entering. He says he’ll return in the spring to install temporary piping that will allow the bats out, but not back in.
He explains that warmer weather will wake the bats, causing them to shudder and screech.
With a bitter cold January and February the bats stayed silent, but now that spring has sprung, so have our houseguests.
Soon they’ll be on their way – but for a cost – impacting my wallet and my sanity.