One night this fall we were lying in bed – me, Thurber, Pippin, and Luna, the Rescue Squad – and we were disturbed by the sound of someone scrabbling around in the wall right up near the ceiling, above my head. Well, I was disturbed. No one else seemed to notice.
Whoever was in the wall sounded as if they were trying to get comfortable, rearranging insulation, scraping studs, chewing little tunnels along the edge of the window frame. This went on for quite a while; I fell asleep before it stopped.
The next night, soon after we turned out the light, they went back to work. I turned on the light and put on my glasses and squinted at the ceiling, but I didn't see any holes, and no little flakes of paint or plaster were dropping onto my pillow, so I turned out the light and, soon enough, fell asleep.
I knew, however, that this couldn't go on. It's a well known fact that both mice and squirrels can wreak a great deal of destruction if they're living in your attic. They chew through wires and fluff up insulation batts and poop anywhere they feel like it. They reproduce themselves and then their extended families extend themselves throughout the attic, thence into whatever holes and pipes and vents they come across, and before you know it, they're popping up under your sink and leaping out at you when you open the spatula drawer.
We'd had mice in the attic before, and My Companion had hurled poison pellets into the dark corners, and after a while there was no more scrabbling in the ceiling. But now My Companion was dead, and it was up to me to deal with the scrabbling. I didn't really want mice internally hemorrhaging to death within inches of my head. So I called a Creature Removal Service.
A young man came right out, climbed far too high on an extension ladder, and stuck his cell phone out far too far to the left. When he came down, he said, "Bats." He showed me the screen of his phone. "See that little leg?"
Well, I saw some shingles but nothing that looked like a leg, but I was delighted. Bats! Bats are furry little creatures who help keep the neighborhood free of Zika and Equine Encephalitis viri. For all I know, they help prevent flu, dementia, and agoraphobia, too.
The Creature Remover said that you can't kill bats, because they're protected by the endangered species act. He said that at this time of year bats are going into hibernation, which was what the little fellows under my shingles had probably done – and you couldn't even evict them. You can't evict them in the summer, either, because they're raising baby bats, who are also protected. There's only a brief window of time when you can wait till they fly out from under the shingles, and quickly plug up all the holes they've made to sleep in. Then when they come back, they can't get in, so they have to find some other cozy spot.
So I suppose sometime next spring, after the bats wake up, I'll call the Creature Removers again, and they can come block up the holes while the bats aren't looking. Bats tend to hibernate in the same places, and when they find they can't crawl under my shingles, I hope they'll notice the shiny new bat house I'm going to put up, right there on the end of the house. I would like to have a bat nursery outside my window. At least then I will be pretty sure what the scritching, scrabbling noises are.