The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981provides protection for all species of bat found in the United Kingdom.
It is illegal to kill or even disturb bats in their roosts
Bats are fascinating animals – the only true flying mammal. There are over 1,100 species of bats in the world, and more are still being discovered. Bats account for more than a quarter of mammal species in the UK and around 20% of all mammal species worldwide.
Bats play an essential part in the natural world and are indicators of a healthy environment. Their future is directly linked to our quality of life and the quality of our environment.
Approximately 25% of the world’s bats are threatened with extinction. At least 12 bat species in the world, such as the Puerto Rican flower bat, have already become extinct. In the UK, bats face threats ranging from predation to crime and loss of habitat. UK bats and their roosts are protected by law.
The largest bats are the flying foxes with a wingspan of up to 2 metres and a body weight of up to 1.5 kilograms. At the other end of the scale is the bumblebee bat, weighing only 2 grams – the world’s smallest mammal.
Bats in the UK eat only insects, but bats elsewhere also dine on frogs, fruit, other bats, nectar from flowers, blood, pollen and fish. Some bats use echolocation to navigate and hunt, while others rely on smell and vision to find food.
To survive, bats need water and insects to eat, places to hunt insects (called foraging habitats), places to hibernate, sleep and raise their babies (roosts) and safe routes between these different locations (commuting habitats).
Bats need different roosting conditions at different times of the year and they will often move around to find a roost that meets their needs. In summer, female bats form maternity roosts while in winter, bats use hibernation roosts. Learn more about a year in the life of a bat. Most bats in the UK evolved to live in trees and caves, but many have now adapted to roost in buildings including barns, houses, tunnels and bridges. Some of the UK’s older churches have seen generations of bats return faithfully to the same roost year after year.
Did you know that bats are more closely related to humans than they are to mice?
If bats are present and there is a possibility of them being disturbed you should consult
Scottish Natural Heritage – Telephone 0131 447 4785 Natural England – Telephone 0114 241 8920 Countryside Council for Wales – Telephone 08451 306229
They will arrange for a person to visit the site and advise on the best course of action BATS can only be handled by those licenced to do so.