At least twice this month, upset callers phoned police to report bats in their homes.

Some scanner followers groused about animal complaints vs. criminal reports.

But, face it, crooks are generally lazy – bats aren’t.

For a senior or disabled person, a bat invader is terrifying.

Realize the critter is panic-stricken, too.

“Dang! Where am I?”

At dusk, when bats begin their nightly cruises, they emerge from church steeples, belfries and abandoned buildings, yawning and slightly dizzy after an eight-hour nap upside down.

I confided to a friend that my family was genuinely “batty,” and he replied that his ancestors were probably hanging on a shower curtain rod next to mine.

In Johnstown, the most popular bat “hang-out” is the American flag atop the Inclined Plane. The bright spotlights attract thousands of gnats, moths, mosquitoes and more – a succulent bat smorgasbord.

Our wayward bat was probably en route to a hot date with a perky “bat-ette,” but suddenly has people shouting, clobbering him with brooms, tennis rackets, pool skimmers and whatever else is handy.

It’s a legitimate police call for those who have no close or able folks nearby to assist them.

And let us not forget that our current predicament was delivered to this hemisphere by a transient throng of fruit bats. 

I love columns that encourage me to do research.

My dad claimed that bats were “rats with wings.”

The most amazing “bact” (bat fact ... I love inventing words) is that they’re the only species of mammals that can fly.

Scientists investigating fossils contend that bats have existed for 50 million years. They tend to travel and roost in huge groups and enjoy cuddling with hundreds of others when they find caves large enough.

Bats migrate to warmer climates in the winter, Texas being a special fave. They mate during these migration stopovers, but Mama Bats usually produce only one “Bat-let.”

Owls, hawks, eagles, snakes and weasels consider bats a mouth-watering, tasty delight.

Some seriously under-developed nations believe that bats are an exotic, flavorful ingredient in gourmet dishes. Bat Soufflé? Bat Tar Tar?

All (and I mean all) scientists, chefs, researchers, doctors, investigators, analysts and specialists agree: Never eat a bat.

The average bat lives 30 to 40 years. Being nocturnal, secret-night prowlers, helps protect them from that list of predators I mentioned. The gift of flight provides additional protection.

Their wings resemble arms with hands and fingers, causing them to look like they’re swimming through the air. They reach speeds of 60 mph.

Since they all carry diseases, eons of “hanging” (can’t help myself) out together has caused them to develop incredibly powerful immune systems.

They don’t make each other sick. Just us.

And on that note: If one of these squatters invades your home and leaves a funky “souvenir” of his visit – some “guano” – do not touch it. Call for assistance. It is that dangerous. 

This summer, the bat population has swollen. Folks living in older three- or four-story homes with turrets and balconies constantly battle these nonrenters.

Following one of those 911 bat signals a week ago, one gentleman suggested the Johnstown police carry tiny handcuffs in case some belligerent, thug bat out there refuses to end his crime spree until he’s locked in the slammer.

“But they’re an endangered species,” someone will whine.

They carry disease, cause damage, scare the daylights out of people, yet they receive immunity. I have a problem with that.

Let’s restore bat dignity.

Establish programs to make them productive members of society.

Bats are capable of devouring 1,200 mosquitoes and hour.

Unionize them. Give them Social Security numbers. Hire them as city employees. Set quotas for how many bugs they must consume on an average night shift.

We’re all in this together, right? The world will be a better place.

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and regular community columnist for The Tribune-Democrat.​ She can be reached at

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