In Britain, all species of bats are protected under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which states that it is an offence to:
- Intentionally kill, injure or take a bat
- Sell, hire, barter or exchange a bat dead or alive
- Be in possession or control of a bat
- Anything derived from them.
All tree surgeons must check seriously for evidence of bats roosting in woodlands and trees. Roosting refers to the place the bat uses for shelter or protection and most British bats have a summer and winter roosting area that they live between. Dormant roost is therefore still protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
If bats are found to be present or using the area then works must stop immediately and the correct authorities need to be informed before work commences. You would need to contact the Statutory Nature Conservancy Organisation (SNCO) and a EU Habitats Regulation Licence will be required.
If bats are found, disturbed and work carried out, you would be fined either £5,000.00 per bat or roost, and or a 6 months imprisonment, so something to take very seriously.
Exemptions can be granted by means of a licence for issues where there is no other alternative, or it causes a threat under the grounds of public health and safety.
British Bats feed on insects which live around tree canopies, and some roosts have even been discovered between a tree trunk and climbing ivy just 1 metre off the ground floor.
The three common species of bats in Britain are the; Noctule, Pipistrelles and Long-eared.
Being one of the largest species these bats can be seen in the early evenings and at sunset. Adults have sleek, short, golden fur while the juveniles are dull chocolate brown.
There are three species the Common, Soprano and Nathusius’, the first two are the more common while the Nathusius’ is much rarer and very little known about them. The more common two appear fast and jerky in flight as they catch and chase the small insects, which they eat in-flight consuming up to 3,000 mini beasts a night!
We have two species in the UK, the Brown Long-eared and Grey Long-eared, the Brown-eared is more common while the Grey is found more in the south of England. They are medium-sized and when they come to rest will curl their ears up.
All these bats are in decline and strictly protected due to their feeding and living habitats declining with intense woodland clearances for houses and farming fields.
Fun Bat facts
- There are about 4,500 different species of mammal in the world and 1,000 of these are bats.
- British bats only eat night-flying insects but tropical bats eat many other different foods such as fruit, flowers, frogs, fish and even other bats.
- In 2003 in Wyoming, USA, a bat fossil was discovered to be over 52 million years old!
- Vampire bats DO exist. They live in South America and feed on the blood from other animals including birds, cattle, horses and pigs
- 99 of bats Worldwide have been lost in the last 100 years. Due to loss of food, habitat and human activity.
- Some UK bats will fly up to 30 kilometres to feed.
- One bat in this country has been known to live up to 42 years. Smaller bats usually live around 10-15 years.
- Norfolk’s most common bat, the Pipistrelle is only 4cm long and weighs less than a 2p coin!
For more information and ways to help and spot the signs of Bats please visit: The Bat Conservation Trust