|Photo courtesy of pbs.org|
Turns out I do that waaay more than I'm comfortable with.
I was sitting just outside the front door of my apartment on the darkened walkway, surfing the internet by the glowing light of my computer screen. It was inching on 2 a.m. and I really needed to go to bed, so I finally made myself surface and shut off the computer. That's when I looked over and saw this ... shape on the walkway not more than a foot away from me.
Staring at it through the darkness, I could almost hear my brain think the words "Oh, it's probably just a leaf." Now, this shape looked absolutely nothing like a leaf, and I knew that as I stared at it, but if it was anything else I would be forced to actually do something. So, still telling myself it was a leaf, I reached over to touch it.
It was warm and just a little soft, like the skin of a particularly fuzzy peach. I was forced to accept the fact that it was most definitely not a leaf.
As if in agreement with the thought, it chose that moment to chirp.
Well, the only thing to do at that point was to scramble upright, tuck my laptop out of the way of whatever was about to happen, and turned on the porch light. There, lying on my walkway, was the most adorable little brown bat I have ever seen. It was just plastered against the cement on his belly, and I was suddenly afraid the poor little thing I'd just heard the poor thing's final chirp when it started to move around.
Now, this was not my first encounter with local wildlife. I've hauled to safety several birds who tried to kill themselves in my hall closet, but this was different. The little guy wasn't imposing on me at all, but my apartment complex is full of idiot kids, even more idiot teenagers, and drunk people, all of which could easily show up before I got outside in the morning and none of which I wanted anywhere near this little guy.
So I Googled, the one information source that doesn't care what time it is. I desperately started searching on my tablet, standing outside on the off chance I could keep him from getting stepped on (in the city, drunk people can literally show up at any moment). Most of the information was about what to do if they were flying, but as my little guy was still plastered against the ground that was clearly not the issue.
Not that he wasn't mobile. I turned off the light, in case it hurt his eyes somehow, then jumped dramatically like a minute later when something warm and soft bumped into my foot. I immediately flipped back on the light (with apologies, of course) to see the little guy crawling along at a pretty impressive pace. It thought about going off the edge of the walkway for a few seconds (not a comforting thought – I'm on the second floor), then clearly decided against it and turned around.
By this point, Google was telling me that the best way to move the bat was to urge it to grab onto a stick and carry it around on that. I was short of actual sticks – there are very few convenient branches in the city – so I grabbed a very dull-edged decorative sword (yes, I know. The only excuse I have for grabbing that instead of oh, I don't know, a broom, was that it was 2 a.m.) and ran back outside to find that the bat had crawled about 2 feet up the brick wall right by my front door and settled in for the night.
Now, I was really tempted to let him stay – like I said, the little guy was adorable – but that was still very much grabbing height. So I tried to get him interested in the sword, but unsurprisingly he wasn' t having it. I found a grabbing arm with a nice metal pole, but he wouldn't grab that either. In the end, I got desperate and used the grabbing arm to gently urge him into an empty, lidless cool-whip container (apologizing the whole time). Then I carried him to the one strip of relatively protected green space for like five blocks and wedged him into branches a few feet off the ground. When I went back to check on him a few minutes later, the container was empty and he was gone.
I went back the next morning to check again, but there was no sign of anything (I shooed off a cat, just in case). Clearly, I'm getting a little bit of a reputation amid the smaller portions of the animal kingdom.