Sarah Harris: Bats come down from the belfry

Most people have pink batts in their ceiling. We have grey ones. And no one died installing them.

The bats insinuated their own way in through a small hole at the apex of the roof of the A-frame and colonised the wall space.

We're not sure which of the 21 or so species of Microchiroptera found in Victoria our tiny co-residents belong to.

Now and again the microbats become disoriented and fly inside the house when they really mean to go outside.

When this happens we dim the lights and throw open the doors so they can find their way into the night.

Of course, my husband would claim he routinely wakes to find an old bat blinking blindly from the pillow next to him.

Just this morning I found a stray sheltering behind the chopping board. One of my more fastidious friends is horrified.

When I pointed out that bats are probably about as hygienic as she is — given the number of microbes living on, and in, the average healthy person outnumbers human cells by 10 to 1 — she started adding Dettol to her bathwater.

But she still wouldn't back down on bats.

And, after I suggested they were also rather more useful than dental nurses, she just got huffy.

It's true, though. Each night microbats consume up to half their body weight in insects, acting as an important natural control, particularly of mosquitoes.

With barely 20 per cent of all mammal species that existed at the time of European settlement now surviving in the inner suburbs, there's no shame in being a little batty.

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