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September 26, 2015 - 14th Annual Great Lakes Bat Festival - Bloomfield Hills , MI

Superheroes of the Night

Cranbrook Institute of Science, Sept 26, 2015 to June 19, 2016

The 14th Annual Great Lakes Bat Festival is being held at Cranbrook Institute of Science Saturday September 26, 2015, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Entry is $15 per person with children under two getting in for free.

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a bat? Now you can travel over to Cranbrook, in Bloomfield Hills off Woodward, and find out! The exhibit itself gives you the ambiance of wandering around in a dimly lit cave, much like bats would go through it. A big difference is that you are walking on a floor and the bats, were they flying, would be using echolocation to find their way and to catch insects for their food.

The Bat Zone at Cranbrook is closed for remodeling and the resident bats are now being housed in this awesome mobile exhibition. There are interactive exhibits, live bats (in cages, don’t be afraid), stuffed bats, bat displays, bat videos, and much more. Be sure to get your photo taken at the #savethebat cutout. Detroit Metro Mashup was lucky enough to get an early sneak peek at the exhibit and we heard an excellent educational seminar by Rob Mies, the Bat Zone Director and author of several books on these wonderful flying mammals.

I confess the vampire bats were my favorites, even if they do bite and lick the blood from cattle in the wild (not our wild, far away…again, don’t panic and don’t put your cows in the barn!). There were also fruit-eating bats, such as Leaf nose bats; with three different kind of fruit eating bats housed in one cage. The larges of the bats are the ones called, “Flying Foxes.” All of these types are in cages lit with red backlights (they think it’s dark) for you to enjoy.

Bats like to live in caves, but the closest caves are in Ohio. In Michigan, they live under the bark of trees, in the attics of buildings, and other places. There is also a movement to try to get as many bat-houses set up in Michigan as possible. If you have a bat-house, they won’t be interested in living in your attic. Thats a win-win!

White nose syndrome, a fungal infection, came into the USA about ten years ago as an invasive species from Europe. This year it has been seen in Michigan and we are losing bats to this disease. It attacks the bats while they are hibernating, causing them to repeatedly awaken and waste their stored winter fat. If they use to much fat during the winter, they don’t survive the hibernation period. Bat-houses do not harbor the fungus, only cool, dank places like caves, so you’re doing your bats and your surrounding ecosystem a real favor by putting up a house for them. You can build them or buy them from the Cranbrook’s gift shop in the science center.

Just like bees and butterflies, bats provide valuable ecosystem services to humans and other species. Bats consume thousands of insects each, every night, reducing the need for larger amounts of agricultural pesticides. They pollinate plants that we use for vegetables and, without them, the bees, and the butterflies, much of humanity would starve. Isn’t it unfortunate that all of these species are undergoing large die-offs due to diseases, pesticides, herbicides, climate change, and other human-induced damage to the environment?

What can we do to help the bats? Put out bat houses, plant wild flowers, and educate people about bats. They do not nest in your hair and they very unlikely to give you rabies. The U.S. only averages one death due to bat rabies per year, an exceedingly low number.

In addition to their pollination of a wide variety of plants, bats are the only animal that can pollinate blue agave plants, used in the making of tequila. Jose Cuervo is one of the main supporters of bat conservation and preservation efforts.

The exhibit starts Saturday, September 26th and runs through June 19, 2016. However this Saturday (tomorrow) there is also the Bat Festival being held at Cranbrook.

Courtesy of the MASCO Corporation Foundation, admission to the Institute of Science is free after 5pm the first Friday of each month through June 2016.

Cranbrook Institute of Science
39221 Woodward Avenue
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303