Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Training your bat(s)

Living in the country we are no strangers to bats. Seeing them swoop and dive as they gorge on mosquitos brings joy to the heart. I mean, who doesn’t like to see mosquitos “get theirs”. Miserable blood-sucking bastards.

Brown batSo, we have lots of little brown bats around, including a couple in the attic. I’ve known they were there for a few years but they were never a problem and, as long as they minded their own business, were welcome to stay. Sure, once or twice a year one would bumble/flutter into our living space, only to be ushered back outdoors, but that was a small price to pay to enjoy the benefits.

About three weeks ago that all changed when we were awakened by a bat doing laps in the bedroom at 2 AM. That triggered phase 1 of the established SOP for bat removal: close bedroom door to living area, open bedroom door to screen porch.

Having done so I waited as the bat continued to lap the bedroom, apparently unaware that escape was as close at hand as flying through the damned door to the porch. It was like watching the Daytona 500 - around and around and around he went - and for almost as long (at 2 AM and groggy, 10 minutes can seem like 5 hours). But eventually he/she/it flitted into the porch, triggering phase 2: close bedroom door, open outside screen door. Ten more minutes of dizzying circles later, it finally realised the door was open and out it went in search of a mid-night snack.

Which brought on phase 3: go back to bed.

Two hours later it, or a close family relative, was back. What the….?  One night, two visits? This was new. But same SOP and, eventually, back to bed.

This continued every night for a couple of weeks. The fluttering of little wings would wake us up some time around zero dark thirty, I’d do the sally port routine for a few minutes, then crawl back under the covers. Like having an infant needing regular nighttime feedings it was becoming routine.

But then I began to notice a change in our little bat’s behaviour. Instead of continuing to fly circles in the bedroom once the porch door was opened, it seemed to anticipate it’s opening, heading for the door as soon as I got out of bed. Then, the instant the door opened it was through and into the porch. Ditto with the outside door – open the door, bat flies out. The whole bat egress process was now down to seconds instead of the previous 10-15 minutes. And, a couple of times, I went through the whole routine without the spousal unit even being aware.

So I now have a trained bat (or bats - hard to tell them apart). Or perhaps it now has a trained human. Either way it’s not really the kind of pet I want so a bat relocation program has been initiated. Wish me luck.


  1. If you left all the doors open they would fly right through and you'd never know the difference. Do you really think it just one bat?

    1. I really don't know, but the behaviour is so consistent I suspect it might be. Or maybe a couple. Certainly not a large number.

  2. That's rather cool David, apart from the massive inconvenience :-). There are two species of bat in NZ which are in fact our only native land mammals. They're quite rare and I've never seen any. Mainly confined to bush areas as opposed to urban areas. I'd like a few around the house for summer mosquitoes.

    1. They seem to have acclimated quite well to urban areas here. Do they have natural predators keeping them under control?

    2. Some predation in terms of introduced possums, stoats etc but loss of habitat probably has the greatest impact. They're not on the verge of extinction yet but some captive breeding trials have started.


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