Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center
Parent Express: October 2013 Second Nature
While autumn officially begins in September, October brings sights, smells, and feels of the season everywhere we go. One animal commonly associated with October is the bat. Perhaps because bats can look spooky, they are often connected to Halloween, we see them displayed as everything from hanging decorations to bat-shaped candy. But October is actually the time when bats are leaving the area! Bats typically stay in this region April though October…so our time to see these magnificent animals this year is running out! Some may stick around for the winter months in our attics or barns but most migrate, or move together, to warm caves or southern climates.
There are nine species of bat in Vermont and eight in New Hampshire, however most are quite rare. The little brown bat and the big brown bat are the most common bats we see around our houses. Most are nocturnal, meaning they fly, eat, and stay awake at night. Bats can be associated with witches and the scariness of nighttime, but bats are actually great creatures to have around. These animals are usually insectivores, meaning they eat insects. On average, a bat can eat between 20-50% of its weight in mosquitos every night; that can be up to twenty per minute! We might have a lot more mosquito bites if it weren’t for bats. Because most insects die during the winter, bats must hibernate, which is like sleeping, or migrate in order to survive.
Bats also use a very special type way of finding their way around in the dark called echolocation. To us, the sounds produced in echolocation can sound like squeaks or aren’t heard at all. These sounds are actually vibrations made by bat’s voices that bounce off of their surroundings. This allows them to hear, instead of see, where things are. To see what echolocation sounds like to a bat, go to an open space with tall walls, such as a riverbed or large auditorium. When you shout loudly, you can hear an echo of your voice bounce off of the walls around you. Bats are very good at interpreting this sound to understand what’s around them!
Keep your eyes open during this month for our last few glimpses of the bat this year. Dusk and early evening is the best time to look.
Second Nature is submitted by the naturalists at Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center in West Brattleboro. Join them October 25th or 26th for the Forest of Mystery, a spooky-fun October event! For more information, visit www.beec.org or call 802-257-5785.
Hide and Sqeak!
This game puts a bat twist on hide and seek.
-Choose a wide open space to play.
-One person is “it” and represents the bat. The bat must close their eyes or wear a blindfold.
-The other players choose a place around the room or field. You must stay there the whole time! No running or changing places.
-When the game begins, the hiders must squeak like bats until they are found.
-The bat, with arms in front of them, slowly follows the squeaks until they have found all the hiders.
-The last hider found becomes the next bat.
Make a hanging bat!
Using black or brown paper, fold in half.
Line up fold along straight edge of half-bat template.
Trace template and cut around edges.
Poke a hole (in the wing, center, head, anywhere!) and pull through string or yarn.
Big Brown Bat