Celebrate bats in your classroom

Michigan DNR
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Bat Week is almost here!
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dnr logo Celebrate Bats in Your Classroom!
Red bat in a tree

Bat Week is Oct. 24-31, 2017

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites educators to celebrate Michigan bats during Bat Week and talk to their students about bats.

Bats play a critical role in the ecosystem, but face a variety of threats. Learn more about the species that call Michigan home and how you can help conserve these important animals!

Below are some resources and activities to try with your students.

Understanding Michigan Bats

Michigan bats are all insectivores and have some incredible adaptations that help them survive! Learn about Michigan’s bats at mi.gov/wildlife: click on Wildlife Species, Mammals and then Michigan's Bats.

Activity: Myths vs. Facts
As a class or in small groups, have students list things they know about Michigan bats. Write down all the ideas and facts on the board, then go through the list and talk about if they are true or false. What myths or misconceptions have you heard about bats that are not yet on the list? Why do you think these myths came about? You also may chose to have the students each pick one of the items listed and research more about it to see if it is true or false, either individually or in small groups.

Watch: Bat Squad! Ep. 1 Amazing Bats and try the accompanying activity, “Calculate the Value of Bats.”

More on the importance of bats:

Watch: Bat Squad! Ep. 2 Hey Bat What's Your Habitat and try the accompanying activity, “Studying Neighborhood Bats.”

Activity: Echolocation Game
(10-20 minutes)
group of six minimum, one blindfold and four cones needed.

Most bats have good daytime vision; however, to find insects in the dark, Michigan’s bats use echolocation, a “bat sonar system.” The bat sends out a signal of short, high-pitched squeaks or sounds. The sounds bounce off of objects like insects and return to the bat, and it can tell exactly where the insect is.

To play the game:

  1. Choose a student to be the “bat” and blindfold him or her.
  2. The rest of the group will play the role of “insects” (bat food). They will spread out randomly around the bat within the designated boundaries (approximately the size of a basketball court).
  3. The bat will call out “beep, beep” and then the insects respond with “buzz, buzz” while they walk around the area.
  4. The bat continues to call out and the insects continue to respond while changing positions. The bat tries to tag an insect by listening for the sound they make and moving in the direction of that sound.
  5. A tagged insect must go sit out of bounds until the next round. The last person tagged becomes the new bat. 
  6. After the game is finished, ask the students to talk about how easy or hard it was to locate the insects this way. Do they think it helps bats to have a specialized system for finding insects this way compared to trying to use their eyes in the dark?
  7. Variations: Have the insects stand still one round and have the bat compare the difficulty to when the insects can move. Another option, depending on the size of your group, is to introduce multiple bats to the game – now not only do the bats have to listen for insects, but they also have to listen for other bats so they don’t collide!

More activities to try: from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's “Indiana Bats, Kids and Caves – Oh My!” Activity Book for Teachers: Activity 10: Pest Control - It All Adds Up and Activity 20: Web of Decay: Cave Food Web Game.

Threats Bats Face and How to Help

In 2014, white-nose syndrome (WNS), a deadly disease affecting North American bats, was confirmed in Michigan. WNS primarily affects bats during hibernation. Infected bats prematurely awaken from hibernation, rapidly deplete their fat reserves and are unable to survive the winter. Bats with WNS often exhibit unusual behavior, such as flying during daylight hours or gathering outside of caves in cold weather.

Watch: Bat Squad! Ep. 3 Bats Need Friends and try the accompanying activity, “There’s a Fungus Among Us.”

Watch: Battle for Bats: Surviving White Nose Syndrome
(Also available in Spanish: La Batalla por los Murcielagos: Sobrevivir al Sindrome de la Nariz Blanca)

More white-nose syndrome information is available at:

Watch: Bat Squad! Ep. 4 Bat Chat! Join The Bat Squad and try the accompanying activity, “The Bat Squad.”

Activity: Bat Conservation Project
Have students research or develop a project to help conserve Michigan’s bats. Resources:

Remember to Be Bat Safe

Bats, like all wild animals, should be treated with respect and left alone. Wild animals may bite or scratch to defend themselves and could carry diseases or parasites that could be passed to pets and people. A few important things to remember if you encounter a bat:

  • Bats can bite and scratch – it is important that you never touch or pick up a bat.
  • If you find a bat, leave it alone and tell an adult.
    • Rehabilitation of bats is illegal in Michigan. For your safety, if you find a bat outside, leave it alone and keep children and domestic animals away from it. The bat will likely leave on its own.
  • Tell an adult if you find a bat that has died. (Do not pick it up.)
  • If a wild animal hurts you, tell an adult.
    • You should contact your county health department if you come in physical contact with a bat or if the bat was found in a home or other living quarters. Find out more about rabies.
  • For your safety, do not enter abandoned mines or caves.
  • Report dead or dying bats, especially during the winter months.
  • Do not locate bat houses in areas that are frequented by people and domestic animals.
  • Learn more about bats and people.

More Ways to Get Batty

Request a copy of the Michigan’s Brilliant Bats poster for your classroom.

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Call 517-284-WILD (9453)

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