Did you know there are over 18 species of bats in the UK? They are important members of the ecosystem because all of the native British bats are insect eaters. Not only that, the different bat species prefer different types of insects... and they eat lots of them because they use up so much energy from flying. For example, even the most common bat found in the UK, the pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus, which is only 4cm long, can consume as many as 3,000 insects per night.
Remember the saying, "blind as a bat?" It is wrong: bats are not blind. Although their eyes are small, they function well, as do their other senses. But, they hunt for their food at night and are more dependent on their sense of hearing. As a matter of fact, they utilize a form of sonar to navigate through the dark to catch their food. This is called echolocation where they make calls and listen to the responding echoes to map out the locations and distances. These high frequency calls, which are too high for humans to hear, are often very loud ultrasounds and the responding echoes help the bats determine if there are objects to avoid or prey to catch.
Bats do not make nests. Instead, they roost in colonies in different places in the year. They may hibernate in one area and then roost in another area for the rest of the year. They mate in the fall, become pregnant in the spring, and then the female bats form maternity roosts where they nurture and raise their young until they are old enough to be on their own.
Although many bats prefer caves and hollow trees to roost in, many of them can be found roosting in buildings, which also includes old and new homes. With more than 18 species of bats in the UK, there's a likelihood that you'll come across them. Flying at dusk is the usual time we see these nocturnal animals. However, all bat species are protected by Law, which means if you have bats in your roof-space or garden, either at your own home or at your workplace, you can't simply set about getting rid of them.
The Laws pertaining to all bat species are very specific and rigorous. It's against the Law to damage their roosts or to disturb bats while they are in a roost. Furthermore, it's against the Law to interfere with their ability to survive and to raise or look after their young. Should the species be from another country, it's also against the Law to affect the abundance of the species they belong to. In other words, migratory bats have the same protection as bats that are natural inhabitants of the UK.
The most common bats in the UK, the pipistrelle, are so tiny that they can find their way into the smallest of gaps to make a roost. Due to the diverse places that bats choose to roost, these roosts are classified by Law as being the entire place or building that they use as either a shelter or for breeding and raising their young, such as a hollow in a tree, underneath a bridge, and commercial or private buildings.
You may discover bats by finding their droppings or by seeing them entering or leaving a building. If so, you'll need to have a bat survey carried out. Arbtech Bat Survey will provide you with all the relevant information you need in regards to how to move the roost, if that's possible, and the legal procedures you'll be able to take for re-locating the roost to another suitable site.
Failure to have a legitimate bat survey carried out is also an offence. So, if you want to stay on the correct side of the Law and help protect all species of bats, have a survey carried out by a professional, licensed bat surveyor.
Sources: http://www.arbtech.co.uk/bat-surveys/ and The Bat Conservation Trust
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