Turn Your Classroom Into a Bat Cave!
Ever wonder what a bat colony really looks like? In some bat colonies, density of roosting bats can be up to 50-400 bats per square foot, depending on species and cave conditions!* (376-3,010 per square meter).
Select a corner of your classroom ceiling, and mark off a square yard /meter with tape. Note: crepe tape or gaffer’s tape may be easier to remove than masking tape. You can also have students figure out the area of a single ceiling tile, and calculate bat density accordingly.
Have your students figure out how many bats each student is going to need to make in order to fill this one square yard/meter of ceiling with bats. (total number of bats ÷ number of students in class). It is recommended that you start with the low end of the range of bat density—and let your students know how many more bats each would have had to make if you had gone with the high end!
Print out fold-a-bat pattern, trace onto oaktag or card stock and cut out for patterns, then let students trace onto black or brown paper.
Tape bats by feet to ceiling tile (tip: start taping them close together! A square yard/meter fills up surprisingly fast).
Have your students imagine how it would look if the entire classroom ceiling were covered with bats in the same density. How many bats would it take to fill the ceiling of your classroom? Then suggest students think about bat colonies as large as that in Bracken Cave, near San Antonio, TX—home to nearly 20 million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats!
(Variation: tape bat feet to a measured sheet of Foam Core board, then turn board upside down and suspend from ceiling. This may be easier on neck and shoulders!)
Indiana Bats in Illinois
“. . . up to 300 bats per square foot.”
Counting Bats the Hard Way
“Anywhere from 50 to 275 gray myotis can be packed into a square foot of roosting space.” http://www.batcon.org/batsmag/winter03Fern%20Cave.htm
Endangered Bats of Arkansas
“Gray bats hibernate in clusters of several thousand individuals, up to 170 per square foot.”
From pollination to Pest Control, Bats Beneficial to Texas Ecosystem
“In this nursing colony, mothers and baby Mexican free-tailed bats crowd together at up to 500 bats per square foot.”