‘Welcome to Atherton’ | Penn State Community Discusses Alleged Residence Bat Sightings | Penn State, State College News

Katie Banta was waiting alone in a colorful basement room at Atherton Hall to study with her housemate Avery Brown, when she heard ‘loud screams’.

Banta (first-year Information Science and Technology student) took her pencil “as a form of security” and said she was prepared for an intruder.

Then another resident pushed open the study room door and slammed it shut, Banta said.

“Oh my God, are you okay? Banta asked.

“No,” said the resident. “A bat just flew towards me, in my face.”

Banta said she peeked through the door window and saw a bat flying around the trash can and adjacent hallway.

Brown (first-year economics student) walked into the study hall as the other student was called University Park Housing. Brown said someone arrived from housing and the four of them waited for the college pest control vendors to arrive.

“I don’t know if he’s ever caught the bat,” Banta said in reference to pest control.

After several attempts to find the bat, pest control would leave the door “half open” while talking to the housing person, according to Brown.

Once, Brown said she heard him say, “Yeah, I can’t find it.”

During these interludes, Banta and Brown said their thoughts were, “Shut it, shut the door.”

Banta and Brown said they assumed he caught the bat, left it out the exit door at the other end of the garbage room and that’s why he came back with a ” empty net”.

“He stayed in there for a good five minutes,” Banta said, “and came back, and there was nothing in his net.”

They still don’t know if pest control caught it, Banta said.

For Banta, she said the experience “wasn’t so scary because [the bat] was locked in another room. If the bat was with them in the room, Banta said she “would have lost [her] disturbs.”

For Brown, “it was kind of scary because it’s like, ‘Oh haha,’ but then you’re like, ‘Oh fuck, can this happen on my floor?'” and then it’s happened, she said.

Another day this week there was a bat on the fourth floor of Atherton. Banta chose to stay in her room and didn’t see the bat – but she heard screaming.

Brown said she saw in the group chat that one of the residents said she caught him.

Banta said she felt the experience was a “Welcome to Atherton Hall”.

As Jennifer Manta left the first floor of Thompson Hall on August 25 to pick up a package from Waring Commons, she said she thought a bird had passed her in the hallway.

Upon returning from Manta (first division of undergraduate studies), she said she stopped before entering the building when she learned that the creature was not a bird – it was a bat .

Someone else at the scene was already on the phone with pest control, Manta said.

“To be honest, I was a little freaked out,” Manta said.

Once the college pest control vendors arrived, Manta said she “felt more comfortable going back inside.”

The university’s pest control salesmen searched the ground for the bat, “looking everywhere”, and according to Manta, they had trouble finding the bat.

Manta said she didn’t know the fate of the bat.

Manta said she encountered a bat again on September 8 when she was going down to the basement to do laundry. Another resident told her there was a bat and asked if she had seen it.

As Manta continued to walk down one of the hallways, she said she “didn’t see the bat but heard wings flying.”

On August 26 at Irvin Hall, Abigail Weiner and her roommate were in the basement playing Mario Kart.

Suddenly, her roommate shouted, “Bat!” and “[threw] lower his joystick and [closed] the door,” said Weiner (first-year geoscience student).

Weiner said she ran out of the basement to the Waring Commons office to have someone call pest control.

However, Weiner said the employee was new and did not know the pest control phone number, saying no one in the upper management chains did either. Although, Weiner said, one of the resident assistants knew the number and called.

Someone came and closed the other basement doors, providing an exit for Weiner and his roommate to their bedroom, she said.

However, Weiner realized that she had left the laundry she needed that night in the basement. And so the pair ventured out again, this time armed with laundry basket helmets and cans of Febreze.

As pest control searched for the bats, she said they stared at her and her roommate and laughed at their gear.

A bat was seen in the kitchen basement a week earlier, causing a batch of freshly baked cookies to be rejected, which Weiner said was “devastating.”

“I’m with the Nittany Grotto caving club,” Weiner said, “and I haven’t seen any bats there, but I’ve seen some in the dorms.”


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“This is not unusual for this time of year, after residence halls have reopened after being closed during the summer months,” university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in a statement.

According to the statement, the university had a “pest control contractor” search the various buildings for signs of entry and habitation and found “little evidence” to suggest bats were living in them. the building, saying these incidents likely happened because the bats in question were “‘lost’ or confused.”

Sometimes a single bat can enter a building, according to Michael Gannon, professor of biology at Penn State Altoona, “but normally you don’t see multiple bats in a building like this unless they don’t live in the building.”

“I guess there’s a colony of bats living in that building,” Gannon said.

The colony is likely a “maternity colony,” which are typically the types of colonies found during the summer months, according to Gannon.

A colony ranges from a few bats to perhaps more than thousands of bats. Residence halls likely have a “moderately small colony,” Gannon said, because bat sightings are common.

According to the statement, the university has implemented preventative measures, such as “screens added at specific locations” and other entry points, to “eliminate even the smallest potential entry point.”

Older buildings tend to have bat sightings because they have more entrance openings and have more doors, windows, and crawl spaces compared to newer buildings. Bats can enter a hole the “size of a dime”, Gannon said.

“In Pennsylvania, probably most old homes in the state have or have had bats living there at one time or another,” Gannon said. “If the house is over 100 years old, it [has] there were almost certainly bats in there.

Atherton Hall was built in 1939, Thompson Hall in 1950 and Irvin in 1925.

Bats “probably live in the walls, in the attic,” Gannon said.

“[Bats] don’t want to be around people, they don’t want to be around lights, but they can find their way there,” Gannon said.

“Bats are not welcome in residence,” the university said in the statement.

Bats are “very tenacious. They will return to the same sites over and over again,” Gannon said, and “they can live for up to 20 years.”

The bats will leave shortly to migrate to their winter homes for hibernation – usually in caves, according to Gannon – and return to the roosts in the spring around mid-late April and stay the summer until September. .

“For anyone who may encounter a bat, please do not attempt to capture or touch it as it may bite,” Powers said in the statement.

But Gannon said the bats were unlikely to harm anyone.

“The bats aren’t going to hurt the students,” Gannon said. “It’s not like in the movies where the bat lands on your neck and bites you in the neck.”

According to a survey of wild bats in the United States and Canada, the risk of a bat having rabies is less than 0.5% in healthy bats. In Pennsylvania, 5% of bats that were tested for disease and death had rabies.

However, if contact does occur, a rabies vaccine should be given and the bat should be killed regardless to “test it for rabies”, Gannon said.

Pennsylvania has had two cases of human rabies since 1950, with the last case reported in 1984. On average in the United States, two people contract rabies each year, Gannon said.

“I’ve been in caves with thousands and thousands of bats flying around me,” Gannon said, but he’s never come into physical contact with one. “One of them landed on my shoulder once. »

For students, the best way to handle a bat in the building, according to Gannon, is to open a window, allowing the bat to escape, or to confine the bat to a room until upon arrival of services.

According to the university, pest control will arrive soon after to “remove the bat safely and humanely.”

“Please contact RA On Duty, Housing Operations, or a member of Residence Life staff immediately” upon sighting of a bat, the university said in a statement.

It can be difficult for pest control to catch a bat because “they’re there and who knows where they’ve gone,” Gannon said.

“Somehow they got back to the hole they came out of, or they’re somewhere else,” Gannon said, “but that doesn’t mean they won’t come back.”


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