I made a fashionable and FREE bat-proof fireplace cover

August 3 | Guest post by JM Hoover
Bat fireplace garland from Etsy seller DCBannerDesigns
Bat fireplace garland from Etsy seller DCBannerDesigns

Our fireplace has had a giant piece of cardboard over it the last few months. It's not very decorative as you can imagine but it was very necessary to allow me to sleep at night.

Why? Well, because a month or so ago, it was raining cats and dogs and hamsters and parakeets outside, and my partner B and I were inside reading peacefully. I heard a noise coming from the chimney. So I looked up from my book, B looked up too, and then Pumpkin started strolling towards the chimney when…

THE BIGGEST BAT I HAVE EVER SEEN IN REAL LIFE CAME FLAPPING OUT OF THE CHIMNEY!

Its wings "whooshed," like a dragon, when it flew — it was that big.

Now, I like to think of myself as kind of a tough girl, but this was not one of my finer moments. I basically took one look at that bat and said, "Nope." And left B to deal with it on his own, as I made myself into the smallest ball possible and put a blanket over my head.

B opened the windows and tried to shoo it out, first with my skirt and then with a laundry basket. Finally it left.

(Note: Don't worry about rabies. No one touched the bat. The bat touched no one. It wasn't bleeding. It didn't get any bat juice into any open wounds. All of our pets have their shots. Like maybe the laundry basket has rabies, but, except for a slight foaming in one of the corners, it seems fine.)

So I put a giant piece of cardboard over the fireplace, and left it like that. And I was not ashamed. However… it didn't go with the cottage feel that I am trying to achieve with our home decor. So I started shopping around for something else.

Our fireplace is very large, so a lot of the grates and screens that would cover it were over $200! I started to look for alternatives online — old shutters, old windows, and other things like that, popped up from time to time. I almost bought a huge metal thingy for it from a store, but I am glad I didn't buy it! Because the next day I had a flash of inspiration…

Do you ever have an idea so great that you can't even handle yourself until you make it happen? This was one of those ideas for me. I was looking outside during lunch and saw this:

This lovely piece of architecture is a neighborhood dog's — poor Zoe, our neighborhood Ambassethound — old pen. It has seen better days. I saw it and grabbed my measuring tape and ran outside because:

Our rustic AF fireplace cover
Our rustic AF fireplace cover

Ta da! Rustic gate to fireplace screen for $0. And it's totally bat-proof. Isn't it lovely? It's got the perfect old wood patina and little rusty bits and it was the perfect size! It looked so good that I made a new wreath. I loooooove it.

Here are your DIY instructions:
1. Build a dog pen….but not very well
2. Leave it for about four years
3. Harvest the gate.
4. Don't get tetanus.

What are some creative-yet-aesthetically-pleasing ways you're keeping bats out of YOUR home?

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  1. This is super cute! Great idea. Do you guys use the fireplace at all or is it merely decoration?

    1 agrees
    • I'm wondering the same thing. I'm dubious as to whether or not a dog pen could withstand the heat of a fire. If JM's fireplace is decorative, perhaps she should mention that in the article? I would hate for an accident to happen or for someone to get injured because of a misunderstanding.

      • We don't use it with this thing on. That's a good point! This is just to keep the things that live in the chimney INSIDE the chimney. You know like, normal people who don't live on a Hell Mouth.

        1 agrees
  2. Do you have access to the top of your chimney? I would actually put the dog pen on top of the chimney, if you can, for a couple reasons. 1) It won't be in contract with the direct heat of the flame, which may be problematic as I mentioned above. 2) The bat will still be able to come down into your chimney. And stare at you through the grate. Haha, no seriously though. I had a bird fly down our chimney a couple years ago and it was trapped in our stove and couldn't figure out how to get out. This will prevent animals from getting stuck in your chimney. I've even heard horror stories of animals dying in people's chimneys. Also, for other people who are looking for inspiration, you might try a metal netting, which can double as a spark arrester.

    1 agrees
  3. Can't you close your flue?
    Every fireplace I've ever used has a lever that opens & closes the flue which prevents critters & wind from coming down it.

    5 agree
  4. Quick Q, I can't 100% tell from the picture, so I may be wrong… but those look like rather large holes in the grate. I'm thinking it's just because I can't see the holes that well, so it probably isn't as large as it looks, but bats can squish their bodies like the demon rats they are, and fit into a hole 1/2" wide…. I know this because it just happened to me. I had left a window open just a crack, as I had been working on a crafting project that involved a sealant which had fumes.. The window in question didn't have a screen so I had it wide open while working, but closed it almost all the way overnight so air could still get in / out, and then closed the door to the room just as a double safety measure…. I was thinking just got if/when bugs flew in.

    Colour me surprised when a bat broke into our house. It got in through the crack in the window (maybe an inch wide) and then I'm guessing crawled UNDER THE DOORFRAME… we don't have ill-fitting doors either. It somehow waddled or limbo'ed it's way under the crack at the bottom of a closed door!!! Queue me screaming like a banshee and full on ugly crying because I was fast asleep at 2ish AM when a bat flies into my bedroom (door to that had been open, but was on a different level of the house).

    It took us 2 days to find and catch the bat. At the time, I was home also because my fiancé works nights… I had a full on panic attack and ran to our guest room and barricaded myself in which included duct taping the crack under the door. My fiancé comes home the next day, and we can't find the bat anywhere.. We combed through each room high and low, no sign of the devil bat from hell.
    The next night, it flew at my head again while I was in the living room… so even with us seeing it, the thing still disappeared (we eventually caught it and released it outside, but it took me over a week to find it's hiding spot… which I only found because I moved a canister of flower to find a neat little pile of bat poop. Turns out our kitchen cabinets have a gap in the corner because they are angled corner units… and instead of filling in the gap, whoever installed it left them open… so the bat was hiding in the corner of our kitchen inside a secret cubby hole no one knew about.

    ANYWAY yes, for your sake, if the holes are larger than about 1/2" maybe add in another layer of mesh, like the clear acrylic or plastic or black screens that you see sometimes… (I say to use this only because the grate since not heat proof will only be used when there is no fire).

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