Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Five:
Case File No. 17-225
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Where We Left Off:
In our last case file, we research the different types of blue eggs found at the Winchester-Nabu estate.
The Devil Thumbs a Ride:
On July 13, 2021, I was surprised to receive a text message from The Grumpy Old Man. There was an image attached. It was a bat on what looked like sidewalk or a cement floor. I wrote back immediately and asked where this was. He replied that it was next to the garage close to the workshop. The bay door on that side does have a cement entryway for driving the lawn tractors in and out.
I had to think about whether or not it would be wise to put Gus in his gear and take him out with me for an observation. Gus has all his shots and both he and Oliver have had close interactions with bats before. This time, I decided to take Gus but leave Oliver at home. He would get caught up on the situation with all my notes, photos, and videos.
I met up with The Grumpy Old Man for him to show me where the bat creature was. The problem was that Gus wanted to patrol the area and then expand his perimeter. Someone had to keep watch over him while the other human watched the bat creature. However, The Grumpy Old Man wanted to keep working on one of the lawn tractors in his fleet. Gus made his way over to the big maple tree where I hoped he would stay put for a while. I had to call the bat experts and get their advice.
Wildlife rehabilitators are licensed for specific types of animals. Antler Ridge doesn’t handle bats, but a woman named Jackie in Hunterdon County does. I called and left her a message. Then I finally found the number for our local animal control officer, ACO Robbie, who is well-known on the Facebook groups and pages for having a great time and being a wonderful rescuer. Jackie hadn’t returned my call so I asked Robbie if he could come over and take a look at the critter to make sure it wasn’t sick.
Waiting and waiting and waiting. Meanwhile, I was trying to keep my eyes on Gus and the bat. The bat was shivering and crawling on the cement. It was making its way into the walls of the garage and I lost sight of it a couple times. I put on my gloves and decided to do something. I couldn’t let it get somewhere that would require it getting stuck and at the same time, I couldn’t let Gus continue patrolling unsupervised even though he was safe in the backyard. I once again asked The Grumpy Old Man to keep an eye on Gus. He didn’t. After nearly an hour of waiting, I ran to Gus and took him home where I quickly removed his gear and ran back out the door. He was so upset! How dare I leave still dressed in adventure clothes and not take him with me?
My new little brown and black friend had found its way under the workbench. You know me. You know by now that I hate creepy things like bugs and cobwebs. I don’t want those things to touch me. I don’t even like to kneel on the ground. I had to. I had to get on my hands and knees and wait for the bat to crawl behind a two-by-four post so I could used gloved hands to get it out of there. Wearing thick leather gloves that were already covered in blood, dirt, and goo (I’ve tried to clean them) from previous cryptid examinations meant that I couldn’t actually feel if I was going to squeeze too hard or not hard enough and drop it. Is that torque or force?
I emptied out an auto parts box that was clean from a new shipment. I put the little critter in there. Oh, man, it looked so pathetic covered in filth and cobwebs. Where the hell was ACO Robbie? I convinced myself the box was actually the best idea since I could close the flaps enough to make it more comfortably dark for the bat.
We have two bat houses mounted all the way up on the hangar exterior and covered slightly by the overhang of the roof. Birds have created a nest on top of the older bat house. That’s the house that has seen all the activity. No one seems to have moved into the newer one yet. The Grumpy Old has watched the bats early in the morning before sunrise and has counted at least twenty in the colony. I’ve checked at night around 9PM and in the morning at 5AM and haven’t seen any. This lost critter has been a unique and cherished interaction though.
ACO Robbie showed up and made sure I hadn’t handled the animal without gloves. He first examined the critter for broken wings and other injuries. There were no outward signs of illness. He wanted to clean the bat and I had the idea of using the old toothbrush I carry in my adventure bag for cleaning artifacts. Robbie loved the idea and the toothbrush wasn’t disgustingly dirty and it was soft enough to brush the fur of this little fellow. Robbie got all the filth and webs of the bat successfully. As he was finishing up the cleaning, the bat showed more energy and even bit Robbie’s glove.
“He’s trying to bite me. That’s a really good sign,” Robbie said.
Our next step wasn’t what I expected. I thought we would put the bat into one of the bat houses. Instead, Robbie needed a tree. We went to the smaller maple where the bird feeder is that the bears have smashed. Robbie wanted to see if the bat was capable of climbing upward. If not, that could mean vertigo or something else wrong neurologically. We watched patiently letting the bat finds its way around. It was going sideways the most, but eventually figured out which way was up. Once it discovered “up,” there was no stopping him! He eagerly climbed up the tree trunk like a super happy critter.
I decided to name “him” (no idea if of the sex determination) Beau after the Philadelphia scientist, Palisot de Beauvois who typed the species as Eptesicus fuscus fuscus in 1796.
After submitting several photos to iNaturalist and debating whether the bat was a Little Brown Bat or a Big Brown Bat or a Jersey Devil Infant, the experts on the app said it was definitely a Big Brown Bat, E. f. fuscus. Gus and Oliver were never in contact with the critter now referred to as Beau.
Case Status: Closed