Bat facts

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

Any struc­ture is a po­ten­tial bat roost, pro­vid­ing there is suf­fi­cient ac­cess – bats need only a 20mm gap.

There are 17 species of bats in the UK and some pop­u­la­tions are start­ing to sta­bilise af­ter huge losses in the last cen­tury but there is still a long way to go be­fore we make up for the se­vere de­clines, ac­cord­ing to the Bat Con­ser­va­tion Trust. The most rare is the greater mouse-eared bat and it is thought that we have just one left in the UK.

Pip­istrelles, the species most of­ten found roost­ing in houses, of­ten choose mod­ern houses and like tight spaces, usu­ally roost­ing be­hind barge boards or hang­ing tiles, or be­tween un­der­felt and tiles, and some­times be­hind win­dow frames. You may see drop­pings on win­dows, walls or sills in sum­mer, or you may see no sign at all.

Check drop­pings by do­ing a roll test be­tween your fin­ger and thumb – if it feels hard then you prob­a­bly have mice not bats. A bat drop­ping will crum­ble to dust quite eas­ily be­cause it con­sists of in­di­gestible in­sect parts. Bat drop­pings present no sig­nif­i­cant health haz­ard in the UK, and can be swept up to use as fer­tiliser for the gar­den.

You will see most bats at dusk as they come out to feed. A clue is the chat­ter­ing sound that bats may make at dusk just be­fore they fly out to feed. In July and Au­gust they are par­tic­u­larly vo­cal around dawn, when hun­gry ba­bies call to moth­ers as they re­turn from their night’s in­sect hunt­ing.

Long-eared bats pre­fer older build­ings, and usu­ally roost in­side the roof void ad­ja­cent to the tim­bers, of­ten along the ridge or ad­ja­cent to the chim­ney breast. Their drop­pings are more eas­ily seen, of­ten in a line un­der the ridge, but these bats come out af­ter dark and so are harder to spot.

Bats are not ro­dents, and do not nib­ble or gnaw wood, wires or in­su­la­tion. They do not build nests, nor do they bring bed­ding ma­te­rial or in­sect prey into their roost. Bats are clean and so­cia­ble an­i­mals.

A bat fly­ing in a room has most likely taken a wrong turn and is look­ing for a way out. Close the door, open the win­dows as widely as pos­si­ble, draw back the cur­tains and re­move any­thing that ob­structs the win­dow open­ing. Dim the lights and give the bat the chance to find its own way out. Bats nav­i­gate by send­ing out high-pitched sounds and lis­ten­ing for the echoes, so the bat should soon find its way out of the room.

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