Join us on a field trip to the biggest bat colony in the world! Bracken Cave is home to 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats. It’s the largest concentration of mammals on the planet, and it’s made up of only mothers and their babies. On our visit, we’ll meet a real-life Batwoman. Jessica Dreyer is a bat biologist who is studying how bats learn to be bats. Now… TO THE BAT CAVE!
In the episode, Jessica describes how she and Harry, her research assistant, catch bats with a butterfly net. See them do it in this video!
Our friend Hayley Gillespie took photographs during our visit. Scroll through this slideshow to see how Jessica processes the bats.
Jessica's a pro when it comes to handling bats. Watch as she measures a squirmy baby bat.
We were there for sunrise, and bat rain. But in the evening, the bat weather is different. There's a "batnado" when the bats emerge from the cave at sundown. Bat Conservation International, which manages the cave, produced this 360 video. Scan around and see what it's like to watch the bats come out!
Wonder what it's like to fly into the bat cave? Scientists created this video to give you a bat's-eye view of the flight home. Watch how they set it up (and check out their bat astronaut clothes!) and then see the result.
Pretty cool, right?!
The cave is active from spring to late summer, starting when the mothers arrive to give birth and ending when the bats migrate south to Mexico. So, want to visit in real life? You can do it if you're a member of Bat Conservation International, which manages Bracken Cave. Honestly, it's worth becoming a member just to book a member night! Your membership supports the organization's bat conservation efforts around the world! Consider it like paying admission to a museum, except with an incredible natural phenomenon instead of display cases!
The member nights book up fast, so make sure you sign up early. There are also a few opportunities to get up early and see the bat rain, like we did.
Can't make it to Bracken Cave? We understand. Not to worry, there are plenty of other places to see bats around the world.
Here's a list of the best places to see bats.
So... What would YOU study if you were a real life bat person? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Draw us a picture, or send us a recording. We'd love to share it with the rest of our listeners!