Welcome to the Bat Cave

Bats belong to the order Chiroptera, which means 'hand-winged'. (The tiny bones that support the wing membranes are similar in structure to the bones in our own hands.) There are known to be around 900 species of bats in the world; however, only about fifteen of these occur in Britain.

The majority of Britain's bat species are either endangered or actually threatened by extinction. This threat is very real: the Mouse-eared Bat was declared extinct from Britain in 1991. Habitat loss and in some instances persecution born of human ignorance about the true nature of bats are major causes of the bat decline in Britain; farm and garden insecticides are almost certainly another key factor.

Bat species featured on this site:

Barbastelle
Bat
Barbastelle bat
Barbastella
barbastellus
Pipistrelle
Bat
Pipistrelle bat
Pipistrellus
pipistrellus
Brandt's
Bat
Brandt's bat
Myotis
brandtii
Bechstein's
Bat
Bechstein's bat
Myotis
bechsteinii
Daubenton's
Bat
Daubenton's bat
Myotis
daubentonii
Noctule
Bat
Noctule bat
Nyctalus
noctula
Leisler's
Bat
Leisler's bat
Nyctalus
leisleri
Whiskered
Bat
Whiskered bat
Myotis
mystacinos
Serotine
Bat
Serotine bat
Epstesicus
serotinus
Natterer's
Bat
Natterer's bat
Myotis
nattereri
Greater
Horseshoe Bat
Greater horseshoe bat
Rhinolophus
ferrumequinum
Lesser
Horseshoe Bat
Lesser horseshoe bat
Rhinolophus
hipposideros
          Brown
Long-eared Bat
Brown long-eared bat
Plecotus
auritus

British bat species not yet featured on this website:

Grey Long-eared Bat - Plecotus austriacus

Soprano Pipistrelle - Pipistrellus pygmaeus

Nathusius's Pipistrelle - Pipistrellus nathusii

  • More about bats in Britain

  • Noctule Bat

    In Britain we do not have to contend with vampire bats, and neither are there any giant fruit bats with 1.5 metre wingspan. What we do have are several species of insect-eating bats and they play important roles in the ecology of towns and countryside, not least in terms of pest control. A tiny pipistrelle bat can consume up to 3000 insects per night - and most of these are mosquitoes or tiny midges. In so doing there is no doubt they make the world a more hospitable place for the rest of us!

  • Most of the bats that occur in Britain belong to the family Vespertilionidae, the 'evening bats'; however, we also have two species from the family Rhinolophidae, the Horseshoe Bats, so-called because of a horsehoe-shaped plate of skin around the nostrils..

  • Apart from birds, bats are the only vertebrates capable of sustained flight. They are extremely manoeuvrable, even at low speed, which makes them very effective insect predators.

  • Although they are not blind, as some people may believe, insectivorous bats use echolocation to avoid obstructions when flying in the dark and to find their way to and from their roosts, and to home in on their prey.

  • The kinds of bats you will find in Britain and Ireland are essentially nocturnal. They become torpid in winter, hibernating in roof spaces, hollow trees and dark caves. Hibernation is a useful characteristic since insect numbers are much reduced during the winter months.

  • Bats usually have just a single offspring each year, and depending on species they can live for up to 20 and exceptionally 30 years.

Other Bat Websites:

Government Agencies active in bat conservation include: