0 2nd Floor Madness

The title may lead you to believe that we’re jumping right into tackling the upstairs, but this post is mainly about the events that guided our decisions.

**Warning there are some critters in this post, so if you have a weak stomach or hate critters, feel free to pass.** Although it is mostly stories.

With the Living Room/Office and Kitchen as finished as we could get before moving in, it’s time to change gears to the 2ndFloor per reader request:

Neat fact: we actually tackled the 2nd floor after our house update marathon (from the end of April 2012 to May 2012) and after moving in. Now I must say- the upstairs isn’t quite as satisfying as the other rooms (for now at least) and will probably only take a few posts if I’m lucky.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to what the second floor looked like:
A hot mess doesn’t begin to cover it.
It all started this past summer when we heard random noises scratching at the walls, usually in the evening. We didn’t think much of because it wasn’t very frequent at first

Then one night I woke up (this is a big deal people, I’m a pretty sound sleeper for the most part) from sounds like it was coming from directly above my head/in the ceiling. Noises like that shouldn’t be ABOVE MY HEAD! In a panic, I furiously awoke the boyfriend and he said not to worry as I tried to fall back asleep with one eye open.

The next morning part of my no-sleep-grumpiness, I made him go upstairs (normally I’m not this demanding except extreme circumstances such as this) to try and figure out what it was. He searched and searched, then got a flashlight for the dark areas and found the culprit. A bat. Welcome to homeownership.

Since Mr. Bat was waay up in the rafters, we let it slide this time.
The boyfriend’s first instinct was to get rid of it however he could; I swooped in with a voice of reason and an eco/pro-animal speech over breakfast.

Little did he know, I was also armed with a little pre-research, you know since our last house showing we had found a bat laying on the bottom step. Funny story because I was the only one to notice and my pops, after knowing what it was, exited the house faster than I’ve ever seen him move before. I figured (back then) if the bat was anything like Batman he wouldn’t hangout in the daylight. Thankfully, I was right that time.

Anyway, the pre-research led me to believe that it would have been easier for us to have the original homeowners take care of the problem and the cost.  We decided on a contingency in our offer with a line about animal/pest removal and remains along with patching the chimney where we thought they were entering. It put our mind at ease seeing the pest removal receipt in our final documents, oh how naive we were.

Anyway, back to our dilemma. The boyfriend and I set out to furiously investigate safe (for both us and the critters) bat removal via our good ‘ol friend, Mr. Google. Needless to say, we learned a lot, like:

  • They’re a critical part of the ecosystem, source.
  • They are actually protected in Wisconsin, source. Especially during June 1st-August 15th killing more than 5 bats has consequences.
  • They love bugs and we have a lot of them, pregnant bats eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in one hour, source.
  • They like to bury in walls on hot days, source.
  • They can squeeze their bodies through a hole as small as a dime, source.
  • Their droppings (guano) are sought after in their pure form (shucks). Guano is used in many organic fertilizers (since they have a strict bug diet) and common household goods.
I’ll let you search for that one on your own; I don’t want to ruin any products for you (like a friend I scared away from a certain food product). Needless to say, I was won over not even swayed by their famous cousin who fights crime and all.
As far as health risks and urban legends, both seemed quite manageable. Bats don’t purposely try to get tangled in your hair. While they are meticulous at flying, they, on rare occasion, may swoop ultra close to your hair snatching up that mosquito that was just about to make you itch for a week. Your hair may have caught just the right wind, that their wings caught it, causing such illustration:
Source. I couldn’t even find a photo, this kid has an accessory.
And health risks, sure all animals have the possibility of carrying rabies. It’s a natural risk. Bats have a low rabies probability, which we determined, were of the Big Brown variety, had a low rabies probability less than 0.5%

Bat droppings on the other hand, grow a fungus called Histoplasmosis they let off some type of gas which shouldn’t affect healthy young to middle aged people. Rather it is more serious to very sick individuals, babies, and the elders. Typical encounters with guano (for the healthy) usually produce cold-like symptoms and minor heavy breathing.

The last tid-bit knowledge was after calling a professional for a quote and advice. Sadly they were way out of our price range and they only guaranteed a year. He had mentioned that once a bat finds a home, they will almost always return. Yikes! He explained that even if you were to capture a bat and take him down to, say Texas, he will return to his home within a matter of days. Which may explain why the first professional failed.

Then finally the boyfriend devised the first plan, he would go up there and try to catch it. I was leery about this idea and added the stipulation that he cover every square inch of his body with clothing. He quickly set up some lights- since it was dark out- cautiously not to disturb the little feller. He then scraped together a paper bag and a piece of wood with an some recycled bottle product attached. After a bunch of rumbling noises, he came downstairs empty handed explaining that the bat flew out of reach.

The next day he bought some sticky traps, typically used to capture mice, to use with the plastic product. The ghetto trap were starting to look like this:
This time, armed and fully clothed, he caught him. He then set the contraption on the far end of our property and let the bat free himself.

Problem solved, well not quite.

After a few weeks of peace and quiet, I awoke to multiple scratching noises above our bed. This time I really couldn’t sleep, so I moved to the living room. BIIIG mistake. You know that tid-bit above about heat and dimes? Well the new guy must have sensed the additional warmth in the house and wanted to come hang out with me because all of a sudden one shimmied its way through some tiny hole somewhere in our living room and flew around. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so loud. I squealed “Boyfriend, Boyfriend, there’s a bat loose.” After making sure the boyfriend got up, I ran straight to the bathroom covering the doors’ tiny gap with a towel. Again some rumbling around the kitchen and it all stopped. Needless to say, my boyfriend didn’t recognize his strength and the bat didn’t make it. Upset at the evening’s turn of events, I headed to my sister’s house and hastily notified him that I wasn’t coming back until the problem was taken care of.

This was serious. The next day he bought a case or two of caulk and covered every hole small and large throughout the first floor until wee hours of the night and until he was satisfied. He coaxed me back to the house the following night, explaining all that he had done. How could I say no to that kinda dedication?! Anyway, he did some more studying and realized we now had a colony and worse yet, that we could not start the removal process until mid-August per protection rights for their young pups [link: exclusion]. Since a professional would only guarantee a year, we would have had to keep paying since they cannot touch bats until August. That left us with a few weeks to decide what we were going to do.

Do weird animals creep you out? Are you pro-animal? Did you find this post to calm your nerves about the mysterious bats? Do you have weird animals/bug/gross things living in your house? How'd you get rid of them?

P.S. I do not recommend any of the plans and strategies used above, just hire a professional for your own piece of mind.

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