Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A close-to-home hunt
We put a hummingbird feeder by the hanging plants in our living/dining room. Soon we had scissortail hummingbirds and bananaquits (chirpy little guys that look like sparrows with yellow breasts) flitting in and out the window to visit the feeder.
When one of Ligia’s friends said the feeder could attract bats, I thought, “What? You crazy! Bats eat bugs and fruit.”
Then I researched the Internet and learned that some types of bats feed on flower nectar. I even found videos of bats fluttering around hummingbird feeders.
My friends John Bosic and Jim Bersani were here for a week, maintaining a tradition of annual trips to Rio they started five years ago (with approval from their wives, of course). One night as Bos and I drank rum-n-cokes, I thought I saw a silent brown blur zip through our foyer and disappear into the kitchen. Moments later, a bat streaked past Bos’ head, paused by the feeder and flew out the window.
It appeared every night after that, usually around 11—after Ligia had gone to bed. I thought it was cool to see nocturnal critters up close, so I asked my aides, Alex and Luiz, not to tell Ligia about the bat. No sense in alarming the little lady if a bat was just coming by for a quick drink.
Dingbat got too comfy and boldly began cruising around inside the whole apartment, even while we were up and about, with lights on. Then he got stupid and started showing up earlier, so Ligia saw him.
As expected, Ligia didn’t like the idea of bats in our apartment. In an attempt to discourage the now unwanted visitor, we began taking down the feeder at night, putting it in the kitchen and covering it with a dish towel. But every so often we’d forget to take it down, and the varying schedule of reinforcement encouraged Batso to stop by every night to see if the feeder was available.
Batso overflapped his bounds! Irrefutable evidence indicated that, as we slept, he'd take breaks during his nightly rounds to hang from our kitchen light and crap on the floor.
Ligia issued the order to exterminate with extreme prejudice, and we began plotting Dingbat’s demise. I played the role of evil mastermind with Alex and Luiz as my henchmen. At first I considered setting up a feeder in the kitchen and spiking the sugar water with rat poison, but then I realized it would be complicated. (How much poison? How to dissolve it? And afterwards we’d have to dispose of the feeder to avoid risk of collateral damage to hummingbirds.) Besides, slow-acting poison might not produce a cadaver we could present to Ligia as proof of our success.
Around 11 o’clock one night Alex (Alex Ventura, Pest Detective) saw Dingbat hanging from the kitchen light and came oh-so-close to catching him with a long-handled fishing net. The next morning Alex put masking tape over the slots in the light fixture where Dingbat was clinging, and the little bugger (bat, not Alex) quit taking dumps in the kitchen.
A week of trying to tempt Dingbat with banana-baited mousetraps didn't work, so he must not be of the fruity persuasion.
We discovered that Dingbat was using the laundry area as a hangout and latrine. Ligia reiterated her desire to see him dead.
During a week of rainy, chilly weather we kept the living room window shut. One night, while watching a movie, I observed Dingbat entering through the window in our TV room—an easy observation because he passed within 2 inches of my right ear. Same thing happened the next night, so I hatched a plan to turn our living room into a bat trap by taking advantage of the target’s established travel pattern.
At 9 p.m. Luiz closed the big window and the kitchen and hallway doors, sealing off the living and TV rooms. The TV room window remained open. One way in, and closing it would mean no way out. Then we waited. And waited. At 10:30 Luiz saw the bat come in and do a quick U-turn to flee back out the window. Could Batman possess a Spidey Sense that warns him of danger?
Batso didn’t return; we went to bed at midnight.
Alex started his shift and I explained the plan. We prepared the trap around 9 p.m. and began the stakeout, Alex watching TV while I worked at the table.
Alex said Dingbat did a fly-by at 10 but didn’t come in. At 11 I heard Alex jump up, close the window and say, “He’s in!”
Alex calmly followed the bat around, occasionally swiping at it with a long-handled fish net while taking care to avoid smacking lamps, windows, or gringos sitting around in wheelchairs.
After 10 minutes Dingbat took a rest on the light in our foyer, then evaded the net and flew another lap around the room. Back to the foyer for another rest, another miss and one more lap. The third trip to the foyer was the last. Alex netted Dingbat, pinned him to the floor and dispatched him quickly with a hard slap of his flip-flop.
We opened the doors and windows, and just before Alex helped me down the hall to bed we saw another bat come in. The battle continues…
It seems the second bat was the real troublecauser. That little son of a gun had a spiteful sense of humor. The night after we snuffed the first bat, we set the trap again. Unbeknownst to Alex and me, Dingbat flew in a back window, cruised down the hall and visited Ligia, who was reading in the bedroom. As soon as she saw him, his presence became very beknownst to us. The intruder disappeared out the bedroom window.
This morning we found two piles of bat guano in the kitchen.
Tonight Dingbat flew in around 8 p.m., much earlier than usual, before we had a chance to set the trap. He only came back to crap in the kitchen while we slept.
Luiz was on duty. We set the trap, then Luiz watched TV while I worked at the table. By 11:45 I had given up hope. At midnight I decided to play one game of solitaire before turning in. At 12:15 I heard the window slam shut and saw the bat flapping toward the foyer. Luiz grabbed the net and gave chase. He took a swipe at Dingbat and hit him with the net’s rim. When Dingbat hit the floor, Luiz dropped the net on him and flattened him with a flip-flop.
End of story? Who knows?
We’re hiding the hummingbird feeder at night to avoid attracting unwanted visitors.