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Be critter keeper — as in, keep them outside

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After a great deal of searching for that perfect place, my husband and I finally found a beautiful log cabin set in the rustic woods of southern Brown County. With the cabin came all of the splendor one would expect to find — an avalanche of birds of all sorts, most of which we can’t even identify, a raccoon family that visits the bird feeders each evening, and wild turkeys that occasionally stroll by.

Not to forget the deer that will nibble on almost anything.

Unfortunately, a few of the critters had even made their way into the cabin as it stood patiently waiting for someone to purchase it. Flying squirrels had made their way into the attic through the holes of woodpeckers. Wood bees found the logs to their liking and had set up residence.

After a bit of work and a lot of love, however, the inside critters are now gone and living where they are supposed to be — outside the cabin — and not scurrying about the attic during the wee hours of the morning. We are now on a first-name basis with the critter people.

Returning home to Greenwood, I found myself watching television late in the evening. Suddenly, I heard a very loud scratching sound in the ceiling of the downstairs. The dog began to bark and obviously had heard the sound as well. I listened again. Yes, there was something up there. For someone who has never even had mice to deal with, the sound was quite alarming. But what could it be?

The next morning, I called an animal rescue service. My first thought was that a ground squirrel had somehow made its way in. It wasn’t long before I had my answer. After scouring the attic, the animal rescuers climbed back down the steps carrying a large covered Styrofoam cup which contained something that was obviously scratching desperately in its attempt to flee. They asked if I cared to see their prize. I politely declined.

A bat had been captured from my attic. Only one, but that was quite enough.

I would soon learn that the work had just begun — and what an adventure it would be!

First, all bats had to be driven out of the attic using high-pitched sounds and one-way doors that would allow the bats to leave but not return.

Secondly, all holes would be filled that could possibly be easy access for the tiny critters to come and go. (I learned they can slip through a hole about the size of a quarter or less. This one came in through a tiny hole in the screen of a vent.)

Finally, all insulation would be vacuumed away and clean insulation installed.

Sounds simple enough, but as most people do, we store things in the attic, which meant all of those things had to come down. (I didn’t remember we had so many suitcases. From vintage white ones to those that are easy to pull around, we have them all.) Toys we were keeping, dishes that had been passed down and lamps that had become a bit boring. Luckily we aren’t pack rats. Still, all had to be cleaned and disinfected just in case Little Bat had been busy.

At last, after about 10 days of disarray, we could claim our house again. The attic was clean, and the critters were once again where they were supposed to be — outside.

Now, I find myself standing on the porch about 9 p.m. each evening gazing at the darkening sky. The bats are truly everywhere, doing their job as they devour thousands and thousands of mosquitoes every single night.

I love the critters — just not in my house, thank you.

Carol Edwards is retired after a 30-year career teaching elementary school students at at Greenwood schools. Send column ideas to newstips@dailyjournal.net.

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