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Published by jack elliot

Bats are remarkable creatures.

 

 

 

They find their way using ‘echolocation’, sending out high-pitched calls that echo back and create a ‘sonic map’ of their environment, pinpointing potential prey with incredible accuracy.

 

They hunt tiny insects, avoiding obstacles and predators alike, even in complete darkness.

Echolocation is an ability shared by only a few others in the animal kingdom. Dolphins use a form of it, as do a small selection of birds, but bats have evolved this ability to create their own unique ecological niche.

Although some species are rare or in decline, bats are fairly commonplace in the UK, making up a quarter of our mammal species. Because they are reclusive and nocturnal, human encounters with bats are somewhat rare, but they can be all around us without our knowledge. They often use our roof spaces, attics and the eaves of our houses as their roosts.

 these ten species can all be found in our forests and towns:

  • Common Pipistrelle, referred to as 45 kHz Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)
  • Soprano Pipistrelle, referred to as 55 kHz Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus)
  • Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus)
  • Nathusius' Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii)
  • Brown Long Eared (Plectus auritus)
  • Daubenton’s (Myotis daubentonii)
  • Natterer’s (Myotis nattereri)
  • Whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus)
  • Noctule (Nyctalus noctula)
  • Leisler’s bat (Nyctalus leisleri)
  • Brandt’s bat (Myotis brandtii)

Of these ten species, the Common and Soprano Pipistrelle are the least rare, and are therefore the most likely to be seen flitting through the skies at dusk, especially near water, where insects are plentiful.

 

It is now illegal to kill, injure, catch or keep bats, or to damage, destroy or obstruct bat roosts. It is also illegal to disturb bats by entering known roosts or hibernation sites. Thankfully, it is also illegal to sell, barter or exchange bats, live or dead, which means they cannot be killed for taxidermy or display, or kept as pets.

The decline in bat numbers in the 20th century was steep, with a sharp drop since the 1960s. Bats and their habitats are now much better protected, but are still threatened by loss of habitat, roosting spots, and declining insect populations, often due to the use of pesticides.

 

 Pipistrelle populations in Scotland are actually growing, perhaps in part due to greater awareness of bats and the challenges they face as a species, and the conservation measures put in place over the last few years.

Bat populations in a given area can eat up to 3,000 midges per night - drastically reducing (and crucially, naturally managing) the population of these annoying, biting insects. The latest figures show a 79% increase in the Common Pipistrelle population in Scotland since 2009 - a truly impressive comeback.

 

 

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T
Jack,<br /> Thanks for a great write up on Bats. The little guys did live around us when we had a home in NH, USA. Every night the would circle the house because it was a great feeding ground with out night lights on the top floor. What a delight to watch them.....and the nasty bugs were a feast for them! Both of us happy!<br /> Trish
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