Mr. Batterson – The bat who loved popcorn ceilings.

By Oretta Croushore, Property Manager for Home Rental Services.

It started out as a day like any other. I was sipping some morning coffee and looking through my inbox. The first call I took definitely shook things up a bit. The call came from a renter, explaining they woke up this morning to find a bat in the house. Bats are fairly common in this part of the country. It’s not unusual for them to find a quiet place to “hang out.” At first, I thought he meant he could hear them in the attic. He clarified, the little guy had let himself into the house and was using the popcorn ceiling to hold him in place.

I actually like bats. We are more like Facebook only friends and not the kind of friends I want to get together with on a regular basis. That’s to say, I think they’re beautiful creatures who are underappreciated… but please don’t come into my house. There’s going to be a lot of screeching, flapping, and failed attempts to find an exit. (The bat will probably freak out, too.)

As if I didn’t already have enough worst case scenarios playing in my head, the renter told me this was the day his four year old didn’t go to preschool and she was pretty freaked out. I promised the renter I would get Mr. Batterson escorted out right away.

Our regular go to for animal removal is Critter Control.

Critter Control was my next call after I hung up with the renter. The person I spoke was very apologetic when she told me there was no way they would be able to get out to take care of the situation for 1-2 days. This won’t do. Mr. Batterson doesn’t pay rent, and he’s not on the lease. The nice folks at Critter Control were able to give me the names of three other wildlife removal people. I went down the list but was only able to leave a message with each person.

I called the renter back to see how they were doing in the house and to see if Mr. Batterson was moving about. (Secretly, I was hoping he had let himself out.) Thankfully, he was enamored by the popcorn on the ceiling and was staying there. I should mention that our renter was patient and stayed calm during the whole thing. We even joked about evicting the bat. He told me his mother was about to drive down from North of the River with a step ladder and a butterfly net to take matters into her own hands. We both agreed Mr. Batterson needed to leave before Grandma took him on.

It was on this day, I learned two things.

One was the pandemic has positively affected the wildlife removal business. Apparently, since we’re all working from home, we hear all the things that go bump and scratch, scratch in the day. So, each company that called back had to tell me they couldn’t get to this job today. My hero was the guy who told me we should check with animal control for the city. He said that since it’s a live animal inside the house, there was a good chance they would take care of it.

The second thing I learned that day was animal control is an awesome resource to turn to when you need to get an outdoor wildlife friend out of your living space.

The renter was able to call the City of Overland Park to get in touch with animal control. He explained the situation, and they were able to get out right away. Mr. Batterson was captured and removed from the home. He will be living out his days on a bat farm with lots of caves and all the bugs he wants to eat. Ok, I don’t really know what they did with him. I do know bats are a protected species, so I do expect he was released back into the wild in a more appropriate location.

If you find yourself with an unwanted, wild houseguest, first check with your local animal control. I was able to find a pretty comprehensive list of what the City of Overland Park animal control agents will and will not tend to. Even if your city doesn’t have as much information on their website, it’s worth giving them a call. In most cases, these agents work around the clock, so they can tend to emergencies. Plus, it’s free!

While we were working to get this resolved, I was thinking about the renter and his little girl.

If you look up into the night sky around my house, you will see bats flying. When my daughter, who is now a teenager, was little, several bats made their home in the shutters outside her bedroom window. At first, I didn’t tell her they were there because I didn’t want her to be scared of them or think they would come in at night. I don’t really know when or how she found out, but she thought of them as her friends.

When I would go in to do the bedtime routine, the bats would be filing out for their night jobs. My daughter would tell me about Beena and her babies and how they were going out to catch bugs. She would send them off to work with a happy goodnight and wishes for lots of bug catching. I was telling this story to a friend one day, and she suggested a wonderful children’s book to me called Stellaluna. I got the book for my daughter and we loved to read it together.

Thinking about the sweet little girl who braved a bat in her house for a few hours, made me think back to our own bat story. In honor of Mr. Batterson’s visit, and my feelings of nostalgia, I decided to send Stellaluna to the renters. I hope they smile when they look up in the night sky and think of Mr. Batterson and his love of popcorn ceilings.