Batguys rescue people and the bats that trouble them

When things are amiss in Gotham, Commissioner Gorden puts out the call to the Dynamic Duo (Batman and Robin). Locally, we can do one better — we can call the Terrific Trio.
While they don’t catch bad guys or rid society of pesky penguins, they have been known to exorcise homes from other unwanted guests. You know the kind: squirrels, raccoons, skunks, opossums, groundhogs, chipmunks, moles, mice and of course, the things that give many folks the willies, bats.
And, in case you want to know, we’re in the heart of bat season, right now. If you hear something scratching in the attic or walls, or if you’re lucky enough to have a bat hang upside down from the corner of your living room, don’t get out the trusty tennis racket and start swinging. Call Dave Kugler.
The 1990 Oxford High School grad is president of Critter Catchers, Inc. He, with the help of Oxford residents Bob ‘Batboy? Lysogorski and Chad Johnson make up the Terrific Trio and are experts at bat extractions. No, they don’t where tights, nor sport capes, but they do sponsor scholarships for the study of bats at Indiana State University and they were also instrumental in publishing Bats of Michigan — a book by Dr. Allen Kurta. Kurta is a professor in Eastern Michigan University’s Biology Department.
In the book Kugler is quoted, ‘A combination of hearsay, misinformation and folklore contributes to some of the misunderstandings commonly heard about bats. This book educations the public about . . . these mysterious creatures — from a scientific perspective.?
Which isn’t to say having a bat inside your house is a groovy situation. According Oakland County epidemiologist Shane Bies, there have been six animals tested positive for rabies so far in 2008 — all six were bats. In 2007, there were 12 cases in Oakland County, 11 were bats. He said there isn’t a centralized concentration for these infected bats — just wherever there is contact with humans, ‘We have no reason to test bats that are not in contact with people.?
‘If you find a bat in your home, we recommend a private company humanely remove it. If a person is bit or scratched by a bat, or if one is found in the room of a deeply sleeping person, it will need to be caught and taken in for testing,? Bies said.
Bies added, the agonizing rabies treatment folks remember is a thing of the past. These days, five doses of vaccine is administered via shot in the upper arm or thigh, along with a dose of a rabies immune globulin antibody.
If you find a bat on your person, Lysogorski stressed to not ‘freak out.? He recommended finding something long — like a stick — and to, ‘Gently push it off. Chances are you won’t get bit. But if you reach to grab it, I guarantee you’ll get bit. They have a lot of teeth.?
Kurta — who has studied and written about bats for 31 years — said to try and restrict the bat to one room and (if possible) open a window from the top.
‘Don’t turn all the lights on, because that will blind them. Have a dim light on. The bat will fly around looking for a way out.?
Once the bat has exhausted its attempts at escape high, it will venture lower. ‘If your open window is three feet off the ground, it’s going take some time for the bat to get the courage to go there,? he said.
According to Kugler, the most common bat in Michigan is the Big Brown Bat — with an average wingspan just over a 12-inches.
‘They’ve adapted really well to live in the same areas as people, and actually prefer to roost in structures such as homes, garages, barns and dams,? he said.
Kugler reports it’s been a good year for bats. ‘They look really healthy this year. The weather was good and there is an abundance of food.?
‘Food? being insects. In his book, Kutra reports bats in Indiana alone eat almost nine billion insects a year. ‘They eat the same amount, if not more, here (in Michigan), if only because it’s a bigger state.?
Besides the Big Brown Bat, which lives in colonies, Oakland County is also a summer retreat for red bats. ‘These are solitary and they roost in trees.?
Kugler said bats are the only predators of night flying insects in Michigan, ‘So they are a good friend to have in the neighborhood — you just want them to roost in a bat house, not your house.?
In these parts, according to Lysogorski, the average colony consists of about six bats, but he has seen colonies reach upward to 800 individual bats (he wouldn’t say where these bats were, but verified it was in Northeast Oakland County).
Lysogorski said bats need only a small opening to gain access inside a home — a couple inches long, by the width of a Number 2 pencil. Bats can get in through ridge vents and crumbling brick mortar.
‘They love chimneys. You wouldn’t believe the amount of space and the access bats have to your home through chimneys with loose bricks.?
Now and into September is mating season for the Big Browns (though they will not get pregnant until after hibernation — a topic for another article). Adults this time of year are active as are the juveniles from last year’s mating. Being mammals, bats tend to have both entrances and exits they use. When inspecting homes for bats, bat extractors will look for and block entrances and install one-way (out) doors over exits.
And, by the time frost hits the area, bats are ready to hibernate. They look for areas that stay between 33-50 degrees and are up at least eight feet from the ground — before they can fly, they need to drop a certain distance to gain airspeed. The bats will not ‘sleep? until spring. They wake up about once a month to take care of bodily functions.
Baby bats are born in the spring and the cycle starts again — which is a good reason to make sure they find some place other than your home to whole-up for winter.
For more information on bats, call Critter Catchers at 248-432-2712; or you can visit their website,
Kurta’s book is 72 pages, full color with lots of pictures and maps (besides most of what you always wanted to know about the bats of Michigan); it costs $10. To get a copy email John Whitaker,; or click the link from the Critter Catchers website. Funds raised from the book sale go to the Center for North American Bat Research & Conservation.

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