Bats in the UK: The 2019 complete guide

Bats in the UK: The 2019 Complete Guide

Almost a quarter of resident mammals are made up of species of Bats in the UK. They are vital to our ecosystems. Natures natural pesticide.

These nocturnal animals remain widespread throughout England, Scotland & Wales. Yet, despite this, we still hear from many people “they have never seen a bat”. Maybe that’s because not only do they fly mainly at night, but they also hibernate through the cold winter months.

Bat populations have been in drastic decline over the past 20 years, and now all 18 types of bat present in Britain are protected species by law.

Throughout this complete guide to British Bat species, we’ll help you learn more about these fantastic flying mammals.

uk bats

Learn About Bats

bat species
CHAPTER 1

Bat Species

bat species
CHAPTER 2

Where Bats Live

bat species
CHAPTER 3

Hibernation

bat species
CHAPTER 4

Echolocation & Food

bat species
CHAPTER 5

Helping Bats

bats in my home
BONUS CHAPTER

Bats in my house?

Learn About Bats

bat species
CHAPTER 1

Bat Species

bat species
CHAPTER 2

Where Bats Live

bat species
CHAPTER 3

Hibernation

bat species
CHAPTER 4

Echolocation & Food

bat species
CHAPTER 5

Helping Bats

bats in my home
BONUS CHAPTER

Bats in my house?

CHAPTER 1:
Bat Species

bat species

CHAPTER 1:
Bat Species

bat species

There are 18 species of Bats in the UK. Seventeen of which breed here and some other non-resident bat species such as; Kuhl’s pipistrelle and parti-coloured bat, occasionally blow off course and land here.

However, not all species hang upside down as you may have imagined. In fact, just a small number of them do so.

So what species of bats do we have resident in Britain? Well. You can find out below.

We’ve have listed the most common species. Bats which you are most likely to see around your home and woodlands.

1. Pipistrelle

Scientific name: Pipistrellus pipistrellus | Wingspan: 22cm | Body length: 35mm

Actually, there are three species of pipistrelle in the UK. Common, Soprano and Nathusius’. The later only been formally resident since 1997.

Pipistrelle Bats often roost in homes. Either, under a roof tile or in a cavity gap. But can be found roosting in a range of habitats. They generally wake up and leave their roost 15-20 minutes after sunset.

Fast and jerky when flying at around 2-10m above ground level. They feed in a wide range of habitats, including woodland, hedgerows, grassland, farmland,  urban gardens. Pipistrelle chases small insects that they catch and eat in flight. A single bat can eat as many as 3,000 insects in one night.

In the summer roosts of the species can usually found in crevices, such as behind hanging tiles, soffits or eaves boarding. They also favour roosting between roof tiles and felt or in cavity walls. Tree holes and crevices, and also in bat boxes are commonly used.

Female bats form maternity colonies, where they give birth to a single young in June. Living in colonies of up 1,000 strong, making them the UK’s most common bat. Pipistrelles are the bats that you are most likely to see.

2. Brown long-eared bat

Scientific name: Plecotus auritus | Wingspan: 25cm | Body length: 45mm

With ears longer than ‘Spock‘ (about 28mm long), the Brown long-eared bat is able to navigate food including the smallest of insects.

They fly close to the ground and sometimes land to catch prey. But this can make long-eared bats a target for predators. Such as cats. Often, they can locate prey from the sounds made by a moth’s wings vibrating. Regularly Brown long-eared bat use perches to feed.

Their feeding roosts are frequently inside loft voids, porches or barns and can be recognised by discarded moth wings in a pile.

During the summer roosts are usually located in older buildings, barns, churches and trees. Long-eared bats generally form small colonies of about 20 individuals. Winter roosts tend to be in caves, tunnels and occasionally even trees and homes.

An individual can live for over 30 years!

3. Noctule

Scientific name: Nyctalus noctula | Wingspan: 36cm | Body length: 75mm

One of the largest bats in the UK, The Noctule is usually first out of their evening roost.

Mostly, they are tree dwellers, living mainly in rot cracks and woodpecker holes, Travelling up to 10km away from the roost each evening to forage. They occur in buildings only on rare occasions.

With a flight speed of over 50kph, Noctule bats usually flight at higher altitudes, taking steep dives when chasing prey. A diet of moths, beetles and flying ant been caught on the wing. Occasionally prey is taken from the ground and in urban areas they are known to use street lamps to feed on attracted moths.

During April noctule bats form mixed-sex colonies and can be found in tree holes, buildings and bat boxes. The groups break up in late spring. During the summer, males are solitary or form small bachelor groups. The females gather to create small maternity roosts, usually within a tree hollow.

4. Daubenton’s

Scientific name: Myotis daubentonii | Wingspan: 25cm | Body length: 45mm

Also known as the ‘water bat’, Daubenton’s use their tails and large feet to skim water taking prey from the surface. Have you seen a bat out in daylight over water? Well, chances are it was a Daubenton’s.

Usually, summer colonies are in humid sites near water. Such as bridges over canals and rivers, or in tunnels. A friendly bat species, Daubenton’s will happily and are tolerated in roosts formed by pipistrelle, noctule and brown long-eared bats.

With an average colony size of up to 200 in a maternity roost, young pups are suckled for 6 to 8 weeks, where they are then able to fully forage alone. Males or non-breeding females sometimes communal roosts. However, they have been known to join maternity colonies.

Daubenton’s bats can live for up to 22 years.

5. Brandt’s and Whiskered Bat

Scientific name: Myotis brandtii & Myotis mystacinus | Wingspan: 24cm | Body length: 40mm

Separated as individual species during the 1970s, these Myotis bats are very similar. Both are a small bat with the Brandt’s been slightly larger in size.

Emerging within 30 minutes of sunset, Brandt’s and Whiskered bats remain active throughout much of the night. A fast and fluttering flight of 20 metres high, they frequently hunt along a regular hedgerow or woodland route, Gliding briefly among in the canopy.

Whiskered and Brandt’s bats regularly use buildings to roost. A crevice dweller, they often use houses and buildings with stone walls and slate roofs.

Similarly to Daubenton’s, Both species may also roost with pipistrelles or long-eared bats.

6. Lesser Horseshoe

Scientific name: Rhinolophus hipposideros | Wingspan: 25cm | Body length: 45mm

The lesser horseshoe is one of the smallest bats in the UK. A classic upside down ‘hanging’ species, they wrap their wings around the body when sleeping. Easily distinguished from a complex noseleaf look.

Usually, the species are cave dwellers. However, summer colonies are now commonly found in the roofs of larger rural houses and stable blocks. Especially if a nearby cellar, cave or tunnel is available.

Following a period when the bats fly around within the roost testing the conditions outside, the Lesser Horseshoe finally emerges to forage about 30 minutes after sunset.

Flying at just five metres above ground level, large prey is generally taken back to a night roost. Meaning, feeding remains are often found in a pile below their favourite perches.

Mixed-sex maternity colonies of the lesser horseshoe bat are common, with up 20% of the group being male.

Want to learn more about bat species?

On the Bat conservation trust website, there are some in-depth factsheets about all Bats in the UK. You can also listen to how the sound via echolocation on the page.

There are 18 species of Bats in the UK. Seventeen of which breed here and some other non-resident bat species such as; Kuhl’s pipistrelle and parti-coloured bat, occasionally blow off course and land here.

However, not all species hang upside down as you may of imagined. In fact just a small number of them do so.

So what species of bats do we have resident in Britain? Well. You can find out below.

We’ve have listed the most common species. Bats which you are mostly likely to see around your home and woodlands.

1. Pipistrelle

Scientific name: Pipistrellus pipistrellus | Wingspan: 22cm | Body length: 35mm

Actually, there are three species of pipistrelle in the UK. Common, Soprano and Nathusius’. The later only been formally resident since 1997.

Pipistrelle Bats often roost in homes. Either, under a roof tile or in a cavity gap. But can be found roosting in a range of habitats. They generally wake up and leave their roost 15-20 minutes after sunset.

Fast and jerky when flying at around 2-10m above ground level. They feed in a wide range of habitats, including woodland, hedgerows, grassland, farmland,  urban gardens. Pipistrelle chase small insects that they catch and eat in flight. A single bat can eat as many as 3,000 insects in one night.

In the summer roosts of the species can usually found in crevices, such as behind hanging tiles, soffits or eaves boarding. They also favour roosting between roof tiles and felt or in cavity walls. Tree holes and crevices, and also in bat boxes are commonly used.

Female bats form maternity colonies, where they give birth to a single young in June. Living in colonies of up 1,000 strong, making them the UK’s most common bat. Pipistrelles are the bats that you are most likely to see.

2. Brown long-eared bat

Scientific name: Plecotus auritus | Wingspan: 25cm | Body length: 45mm

With ears longer than ‘Spock‘ (about 28mm long), the Brown long-eared bat is able to navigate food including the smallest of insects.

They fly close to the ground and sometimes land to catch prey. But this can make long-eared bats a target for predators. Such as cats. Often, they can locate prey from the sounds made by a moth’s wings vibrating. Regularly Brown long-eared bat use perches to feed.

Their feeding roosts are frequently inside loft voids, porches or barns and can be recognised by discarded moth wings in a pile.

During the summer roosts are usually located in older buildings, barns, churches and trees. Long-eared bats generally form small colonies of about 20 individuals. Winter roosts tend to be in caves, tunnels and occasionally even trees and homes.

An individual can live for over 30 years!

3. Noctule

Scientific name: Nyctalus noctula | Wingspan: 36cm | Body length: 75mm

One of the largest bats in the UK, The Noctule is usually first out of their evening roost.

Mostly, they are tree dwellers, living mainly in rot cracks and woodpecker holes, Travelling up to 10km away from the roost each evening to forage. They occur in buildings only on rare occasions.

With a flight speed of over 50kph, Noctule bats usually flight at higher altitudes, taking steep dives when chasing prey. A diet of moths, beetles and flying ant been caught on the wing. Occasionally prey is taken from the ground and in urban areas they are known to use street lamps to feed on attracted moths.

During April noctule bats form mixed-sex colonies and can be found in tree holes, buildings and bat boxes. The groups break up in late spring. During the summer, males are solitary or form small bachelor groups. The females gather to create small maternity roosts, usually within a tree hollow.

4. Daubenton’s

Scientific name: Myotis daubentonii | Wingspan: 25cm | Body length: 45mm

Also known as the ‘water bat’, Daubenton’s use their tails and large feet to skim water taking prey from the surface. Have you seen a bat out in daylight over water? Well, chances are it was a Dubenton’s.

Usually, summer colonies are in humid sites near water. Such as, bridges over canals and rivers, or in tunnels. A friendly bat species, Daubenton’s will happily and are tolerated in roosts formed by pipistrelle, noctule and brown long-eared bats.

With an average colony size of up to 200 in a maternity roost, young pups are suckled for 6 to 8 weeks, where they are then able to fully forage alone. Males or non-breeding females sometimes communal roosts. However, they have been known to join maternity colonies.

Daubenton’s bats can live for up to 22 years.

5. Brandt’s and Whiskered Bat

Scientific name: Myotis brandtii & Myotis mystacinus | Wingspan: 24cm | Body length: 40mm

Separated as individual species during the 1970’s, these Myotis bats are very similar. Both are a small bat with the Brandt’s been slightly larger in size.

Emerging within 30 minutes of sunset, Brandt’s and Whiskered bats remain active throughout much of the night. A fast and fluttering flight of 20 metres high, they frequently hunt along a regular hedgerow or woodland route, Gliding briefly among in the canopy.

Whiskered and Brandt’s bats are regularly use buildings to roost. A crevice dweller, they often use houses and buildings with stone walls and slate roofs.

Similarly to Daubenton’s, Both species may also roost with pipistrelles or long-eared bats.

6. Lesser Horseshoe

Scientific name: Rhinolophus hipposideros | Wingspan: 25cm | Body length: 45mm

The lesser horseshoe is one of the smallest bats in the UK. A classic upside down ‘hanging’ species, they wrap their wings around the body when sleeping. Easily distinguished from a complex noseleaf look.

Usually, the species are cave dwellers. However summer colonies are now commonly found in the roofs of larger rural houses and stable blocks. Especially if a nearby cellar, cave or tunnel is available.

Following a period when the bats fly around within the roost testing the conditions outside, the Lesser Horseshoe finally emerges to forage about 30 minutes after sunset.

Flying at just five metres above ground level, large prey is generally taken back to a night roost. Meaning, feeding remains are often found in a pile below their favourite perches.

Mixed-sex maternity colonies of the lesser horseshoe bat are common, with up 20% of the group being male.

Want to learn more about bat species?

On the Bat conservation trust website there are some in depth factsheets about all Bats in the UK. You can also listen to how the sound via echolocation on the page.

CHAPTER 2:
Where do bats live?

bat species

CHAPTER 2:
Where do bats live?

bat species

Bats occupy a wide range of habitats in the UK, depending on the species and the season.

All British bat species are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the night. Daytime is for sleeping where they find a safe and sheltered spot known as a roost.

During the winter months, bats go in to hibernation and will typically sleep from late November until early April. This naturally depends of weather conditions and temperatures.

Bats in the UK have for centuries set up roosts in natural features such as holes in trees. However, as the human population increased and natural roost sites, like ancient trees, have become increasingly rare, they quickly adapted to the man-made environment. This has been crucial for their survival. Bats roosts are now commonly found in the roofs of houses, barns and bridges and churches.

1. What is a bat roost?

Put simply. A roost is the place a bat lives, rests or feeds.

At different times of the year, different roosting conditions are required and bats will often move to find a roost that meets their needs. Some species like trees, some prefer undergrounds cellars. Many bats make their roosts in crevices on buildings, behind hanging tiles or in roof voids.

UK bats do not build their own roosts, yet use structures that are already available. Ecological Surveys and research has shown they have been discovered roosting in a manner of environments. Most commonly, roosts in trees, roosts in built structures and roosts in underground sites. Some bats species will also roost in bat boxes.

For several weeks in summer, female bats gather in a maternity roost to have their babies.

So where do bats live and how are colonies formed?

2. Maternity Roosts

Warm, dry indoor spaces such as house lofts are often ideal for bat maternity roosts. We often, find that urban colonies favour peoples homes.

Bats mating season is usually during autumn. Males will breed with several females in a group. The female bats store the seaman over winter before releasing it to the ovaries as the warmer weather arrives in spring.

In early summer, pregnant female bats gather together and form a maternity roost to have their babies. Usually returning to the same site each year.

The period of gestation depends on the species and can be influenced by weather, climate and food source. generally this lasts between 6 and 9 weeks. Bats give birth to a single pup (although twins sometimes occur). The babies are kept close to their mother and nurtured carefully during this time.

Like most mammals, baby bats are suckled by their mothers for four to six weeks, when they are usually old enough to fly. At 6 weeks they are strong enough to venture out from the roost to forage for food.

During the maternity season, bats are very sensitive and on occasions may abandon young if they are disturbed.

3. Roosts in Buildings

Due to human developments over the centuries, bat roosts have been greatly impacted on as woodland and natural habitats disappeared. Because of this bats have been forced to adapt they way they roost, with buildings offering the ideal solution.

All our UK bat species will make use of buildings on occasion, but for some species such as pipistrelles and brown long-eared bats, homes, bridges, barns and churches and a variety of other buildings have become essential roost sites.

It is not uncommon for bats to roost in both new and old houses. You may realise that you have bats roosting in your house during the summer months, when they are more active.

If you think you have bats in your house, check out the Bat’s in my house? chapter below. The Bat conservation trust have also published two good articles worth a read. You can download the Living with Bats leaflet or Bats and Buildings leaflet.

4. Roosting in trees

The UK was once covered in forests and woodland habitats meaning most bats in the UK evolved to roost in holes or cracks in trees. Around 75% of all bat species are known to roost in trees where possible. Oak, beech and ash trees are particularly good for bats, but any woodland or tree has potential to be a bat roost.

However, due to a lack of suitable tree density and habitat, the remaining species have evolved to favour man-made structures.

Woodlands provide good shelter and offer a great biodiversity of insects for bats to feed on. Since bats do not make their own holes or roost sites, they use whatever gaps are available. Such as cavities in the branches or trunk, woodpecker holes, loose bark, splits and ivy.

Depending on the time of year and temperatures, bats use different parts of a tree for different reasons. For example, in winter, they might use the lower area of a tree to hibernate. During summer bats might use the higher canopy sites as a maternity roost.

Male bats and non-breeding females tend to prefer cooler conditions throughout the year, meaning midway up a tree maybe suitable.

5. Underground Roosts

Underground sites such as cellars and tunnels are ideal roosts for bats during hibernation where they are less likely to be disturbed by light, noise and predators.

These bat roosts are commonly known as hibernacula. They provide the optimum stable temperature and humidity that bats require during their winter. Some species, such as Lesser and Greater horseshoe bats rely on underground roosts year round for roosting, feeding and hibernation.

Bats occupy a wide range of habitats in the UK, depending on the species and the season.

All British bat species are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the night. Daytime is for sleeping where they find a safe and sheltered spot known as a roost.

During the winter months, bats go in to hibernation and will typically sleep from late November until early April. This naturally depends of weather conditions and temperatures.

Bats in the UK have for centuries set up roosts in natural features such as holes in trees. However, as the human population increased and natural roost sites, like ancient trees, have become increasingly rare, they quickly adapted to the man-made environment. This has been crucial for their survival. Bats roosts are now commonly found in the roofs of houses, barns and bridges and churches.

1. What is a bat roost?

Put simply. A roost is the place a bat lives, rests or feeds.

At different times of the year, different roosting conditions are required and bats will often move to find a roost that meets their needs. Some species like trees, some prefer undergrounds cellars. Many bats make their roosts in crevices on buildings, behind hanging tiles or in roof voids.

UK bats do not build their own roosts, yet use structures that are already available. Ecological Surveys and research has shown they have been discovered roosting in a manner of environments. Most commonly, roosts in trees, roosts in built structures and roosts in underground sites. Some bats species will also roost in bat boxes.

For several weeks in summer, female bats gather in a maternity roost to have their babies.

So where do bats live and how are colonies formed?

2. Maternity Roosts

Warm, dry indoor spaces such as house lofts are often ideal for bat maternity roosts. We often, find that urban colonies favour peoples homes.

Bats mating season is usually during autumn. Males will breed with several females in a group. The female bats store the seaman over winter before releasing it to the ovaries as the warmer weather arrives in spring.

In early summer, pregnant female bats gather together and form a maternity roost to have their babies. Usually returning to the same site each year.

The period of gestation depends on the species and can be influenced by weather, climate and food source. generally this lasts between 6 and 9 weeks. Bats give birth to a single pup (although twins sometimes occur). The babies are kept close to their mother and nurtured carefully during this time.

Like most mammals, baby bats are suckled by their mothers for four to six weeks, when they are usually old enough to fly. At 6 weeks they are strong enough to venture out from the roost to forage for food.

During the maternity season, bats are very sensitive and on occasions may abandon young if they are disturbed.

3. Roosts in Buildings

Due to human developments over the centuries, bat roosts have been greatly impacted on as woodland and natural habitats disappeared. Because of this bats have been forced to adapt they way they roost, with buildings offering the ideal solution.

All our UK bat species will make use of buildings on occasion, but for some species such as pipistrelles and brown long-eared bats, homes, bridges, barns and churches and a variety of other buildings have become essential roost sites.

It is not uncommon for bats to roost in both new and old houses. You may realise that you have bats roosting in your house during the summer months, when they are more active.

If you think you have bats in your house, check out the Bat’s in my house? chapter below. The Bat conservation trust have also published two good articles worth a read. You can download the Living with Bats leaflet or Bats and Buildings leaflet.

4. Roosting in trees

The UK was once covered in forests and woodland habitats meaning most bats in the UK evolved to roost in holes or cracks in trees. Around 75% of all bat species are known to roost in trees where possible. Oak, beech and ash trees are particularly good for bats, but any woodland or tree has potential to be a bat roost.

However, due to a lack of suitable tree density and habitat, the remaining species have evolved to favour man-made structures.

Woodlands provide good shelter and offer a great biodiversity of insects for bats to feed on. Since bats do not make their own holes or roost sites, they use whatever gaps are available. Such as cavities in the branches or trunk, woodpecker holes, loose bark, splits and ivy.

Depending on the time of year and temperatures, bats use different parts of a tree for different reasons. For example, in winter, they might use the lower area of a tree to hibernate. During summer bats might use the higher canopy sites as a maternity roost.

Male bats and non-breeding females tend to prefer cooler conditions throughout the year, meaning midway up a tree maybe suitable.

5. Underground Roosts

Underground sites such as cellars and tunnels are ideal roosts for bats during hibernation where they are less likely to be disturbed by light, noise and predators.

These bat roosts are commonly known as hibernacula. They provide the optimum stable temperature and humidity that bats require during their winter. Some species, such as Lesser and Greater horseshoe bats rely on underground roosts year round for roosting, feeding and hibernation.

CHAPTER 3:
Hibernation

bat species

CHAPTER 3:
Hibernation

bat species

Like some other British protected species such as hedgehogs and reptiles, bats in the UK go into hibernation during winter. Meaning they go in to an extended period of deep sleep (also known as torpid) that allows wildlife species to survive cold weather periods.

During summer, a bats heart rate can be over 1,000 beats a minute while flying. However, it drops to just 4 beats a minute during hibernation.

Bats enter hibernation around November and may not be fully active until May. While in the torpor stage, they lower their body temperature and metabolic rate. Commonly, bats can wake up from torpor daily or every few days in the winter.

Whilst preparing for winter, bats build up their fat reserves, which help them fight against cold and act as the main energy store through the hibernation period.  Meaning they can use less energy and can survive on the fat they have stored up.

Bats can live for a long time, living between 10 and 30 years. They are also very nomadic animals sometimes travelling long distances between roost sites.  In fact, one study shows one horseshoe bat travelled 176 km.  Their ability to hibernate may contribute to the ability of them to do this and the longevity of their lives.

Hibernation Roosts

Bats have adapted fairly well to human developments meaning they roost in a wide range of structures. Along with caves, rock faces and trees, bats will form a hibernation roost in man-made buildings such as houses, cellars, tunnels and other underground structures.

Many hibernation roosts are crevices and recesses which offer a range of variable & stable conditions. A stable temperature and humidity within hibernacula appear to be the most important factors.

The surrounding habitat is key to support winter foraging if a rise in temperatures allow bats to come out of a torpid state and continue to feed.

Disturbing hibernating bats

Disturbance of hibernating bats is a significant risk to their survival.

Bats are unable to respond quickly to danger. During the waking up process (around 30 mins), valuable fat reserves are used, so bats need to forage to replenish the fat reserves. However, if the outside temperatures are too low and they cannot forage, bats are likely to starve. If you do see a bat in cooler weather, it has likely been disturbed and is looking for food before returning to the hibernation roost.

Protecting bat hibernation roosts

Focused on protecting important hibernation sites, bat conservationists have worked hard to create and monitor roosts.  Such protection may include a range of methods.

The installation of grilles over caves, mines and tunnel entrances, made from metal bars wide enough apart to enable bats to enter and exit the roost whilst stopping people from getting inside.  They also protect bats from predation predation by foxes, owls and badgers, especially those species which sleep low down.

Like some other British protected species such as hedgehogs and reptiles, bats in the UK go into hibernation during winter. Meaning they go in to an extended period of deep sleep (also known as torpid) that allows wildlife species to survive cold weather periods.

During summer, a bats heart rate can be over 1,000 beats a minute while flying. However, it drops to just 4 beats a minute during hibernation.

Bats enter hibernation around November and may not be fully active until May. While in the torpor stage, they lower their body temperature and metabolic rate. Commonly, bats can wake up from torpor daily or every few days in the winter.

Whilst preparing for winter, bats build up their fat reserves, which help them fight against cold and act as the main energy store through the hibernation period.  Meaning they can use less energy and can survive on the fat they have stored up.

Bats can live for a long time, living between 10 and 30 years. They are also very nomadic animals sometimes travelling long distances between roost sites.  In fact, one study shows one horseshoe bat travelled 176 km.  Their ability to hibernate may contribute to the ability of them to do this and the longevity of their lives.

Hibernation Roosts

Bats have adapted fairly well to human developments meaning they roost in a wide range of structures. Along with caves, rock faces and trees, bats will form a hibernation roost in man-made buildings such as houses, cellars, tunnels and other underground structures.

Many hibernation roosts are crevices and recesses which offer a range of variable & stable conditions. A stable temperature and humidity within hibernacula appear to be the most important factors.

The surrounding habitat is key to support winter foraging if a rise in temperatures allow bats to come out of a torpid state and continue to feed.

Disturbing hibernating bats

Disturbance of hibernating bats is a significant risk to their survival.

Bats are unable to respond quickly to danger. During the waking up process (around 30 mins), valuable fat reserves are used, so bats need to forage to replenish the fat reserves. However, if the outside temperatures are too low and they cannot forage, bats are likely to starve. If you do see a bat in cooler weather, it has likely been disturbed and is looking for food before returning to the hibernation roost.

Protecting bat hibernation roosts

Focused on protecting important hibernation sites, bat conservationists have worked hard to create and monitor roosts.  Such protection may include a range of methods.

The installation of grilles over caves, mines and tunnel entrances, made from metal bars wide enough apart to enable bats to enter and exit the roost whilst stopping people from getting inside.  They also protect bats from predation predation by foxes, owls and badgers, especially those species which sleep low down.

CHAPTER 4:
Echolocation, Flying & Food

bat echolocation

CHAPTER 4:
Echolocation, Flying & Food

bat echolocation

What is Echolocation?

Bats, dolphins, whales, shrews and some bird species all use echolocation to navigate and find food.

But what is echolocation?

Put simply! Echolocation is when animals send out sound waves, which bounce back as echoes to find objects which are in their area.

When echolocating, bats send out sound waves from their nose or mouth. As the sound waves hit an insect they send echos. These return to the bats’ ears allowing them to figure out where, how big it is, and shape of any objects or prey.

By the use of echolocation, bats can find insects the size of small gnats and mosquitoes, a favoured food for most species.

The saying ‘as blind as bat is not true. In fact, Bats are not blind, their eyesight is actually very good. However, the use of echolocation to find their way around very quickly in total darkness is very useful.

Flying

Some mammal species glide. However, Bats are the only one that can truly fly. Their hands have adapted for flight, so they are not actually full wings, such as birds have. This means they are very flexible and able to move independently. Arguably, this awesome evolution makes bats better at flying than birds!

How do bats catch their prey in the dark?

As we said earlier. Bats are not blind, but at night their ears are very important and used much more often than their eyes.

Whilst in flight they make shouting sounds. This is known as Echolocation. Outlined in more detail above.

What do bats eat?

All Bats in the UK are insect eaters. Individual species have its  personal favourite types and hunts them in its own special way.

Most insects are caught and eaten in mid-air. However some species, such as brown long-eared bats hang up to eat larger prey. Because flying uses up lots of energy, bats eat huge amounts each evening.

A common pipistrelle can eat over 3,000 insects in a single night!

What is Echolocation?

Bats, dolphins, whales, shrews and some bird species all use echolocation to navigate and find food.

But what is echolocation?

Put simply! Echolocation is when animals send out sound waves, which bounce back as echoes to find objects which are in their area.

When echolocating, bats send out sound waves from their nose or mouth. As the sound waves hit an insect they send echos. These return to the bats’ ears allowing them to figure out where, how big it is, and shape of any objects or prey.

By the use of echolocation, bats can find insects the size of small gnats and mosquitoes, a favoured food for most species.

The saying ‘as blind as bat is not true. In fact, Bats are not blind, their eyesight is actually very good. However, the use of echolocation to find their way around very quickly in total darkness is very useful.

Flying

Some mammal species glide. However, Bats are the only one that can truly fly. Their hands have adapted for flight, so they are not actually full wings, such as birds have. This means they are very flexible and able to move independently. Arguably, this awesome evolution makes bats better at flying than birds!

How do bats catch their prey in the dark?

As we said earlier. Bats are not blind, but at night their ears are very important and used much more often than their eyes.

Whilst in flight they make shouting sounds. This is known as Echolocation. Outlined in more detail above.

What do bats eat?

All Bats in the UK are insect eaters. Individual species have its  personal favourite types and hunts them in its own special way.

Most insects are caught and eaten in mid-air. However some species, such as brown long-eared bats hang up to eat larger prey. Because flying uses up lots of energy, bats eat huge amounts each evening.

A common pipistrelle can eat over 3,000 insects in a single night!

CHAPTER 5:
How to help bats

helping uk bats

CHAPTER 5:
How to help bats

helping uk bats

How can I help bats?

Bats need our help.

All UK bat numbers are fast decreasing in population.

Lots of people are lucky to have or see bats in their gardens on those long summer evenings.Sitting around a BBQ, watching as day turns to night and bats begin their evening or foraging and raising babies.

As their natural habitats have been taken away by humans, Bats have adapted very well to urban environments. Commonly using our gardens as a vital food source and shelter. Your homes and gardens play an important role in ensuring a better future for bat species.

Having bats means you have a green and healthy environment.

Gardening for bats

Bats are recognised biodiversity indicators. Healthy bat populations mean a healthy garden.

Numbers have declined drastically since the 1970’s, but we can help them recover with a few simple steps to create a garden loved by bats.

Increase the food supply

  • Create a compost heap. not only does it proved a great resource for your garden, but also provides the insects for bats to eat.
  • Build a pond. Water sources are particularly good at generating the types of insect that bats like.
  • Plant night-scented flowers and pale coloured flowers which are more likely to be seen by nocturnal insects.
  • Enjoy insects which visit your garden. Caterpillars will cause very little plant damage but they will turn into an important meal for a bat or a beautiful butterfly.
  • Stop using pesticides and weed killers.

See the plants with flowers that are likely to attract moths and other night-flying insects checklist from the RHS.

Provide shelter

On general, bats find their own homes. However bat boxes placed on tree trunks or walls of buildings could be of great benefit. Bats look for warm sheltered places during summer. Place your bat boxes, in a sunny area fasting south west.

Keep old trees with cracks or splits in the tree, loose bark or branches in the garden to offer good roosting places.

How can I help bats?

Bats need our help.

All UK bat numbers are fast decreasing in population.

Lots of people are lucky to have or see bats in their gardens on those long summer evenings.Sitting around a BBQ, watching as day turns to night and bats begin their evening or foraging and raising babies.

As their natural habitats have been taken away by humans, Bats have adapted very well to urban environments. Commonly using our gardens as a vital food source and shelter. Your homes and gardens play an important role in ensuring a better future for bat species.

Having bats means you have a green and healthy environment.

Gardening for bats

Bats are recognised biodiversity indicators. Healthy bat populations mean a healthy garden.

Numbers have declined drastically since the 1970’s, but we can help them recover with a few simple steps to create a garden loved by bats.

Increase the food supply

  • Create a compost heap. not only does it proved a great resource for your garden, but also provides the insects for bats to eat.
  • Build a pond. Water sources are particularly good at generating the types of insect that bats like.
  • Plant night-scented flowers and pale coloured flowers which are more likely to be seen by nocturnal insects.
  • Enjoy insects which visit your garden. Caterpillars will cause very little plant damage but they will turn into an important meal for a bat or a beautiful butterfly.
  • Stop using pesticides and weed killers.

See the plants with flowers that are likely to attract moths and other night-flying insects checklist from the RHS.

Provide shelter

On general, bats find their own homes. However bat boxes placed on tree trunks or walls of buildings could be of great benefit. Bats look for warm sheltered places during summer. Place your bat boxes, in a sunny area fasting south west.

Keep old trees with cracks or splits in the tree, loose bark or branches in the garden to offer good roosting places.

BONUS CHAPTER:
Bats in my home

uk bat boxes

BONUS CHAPTER:
Bats in my home

uk bat boxes

Is living with bats in my house a problem?

Bats frequently roost in both old and new houses. They are harmless that do not cause any damage to you home.

You will not hear or smell bats and their droppings soon crumble away to dust. As bats do not make their own roosts, unlike mice they will not chew or detroy any of the materials in you loft. In fact, householders generally do not know they have bats living with them.

How do I know if I have bats?

They only true way to know is to have a bat survey under taken by a licensed ecology consultancy.

Is living with bats in my house a problem?

Bats frequently roost in both old and new houses. They are harmless that do not cause any damage to you home.

You will not hear or smell bats and their droppings soon crumble away to dust. As bats do not make their own roosts, unlike mice they will not chew or detroy any of the materials in you loft. In fact, householders generally do not know they have bats living with them.

How do I know if I have bats?

They only true way to know is to have a bat survey under taken by a licensed ecology consultancy.

2019-05-26T11:38:23+01:00
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