Bats are amazing animals and an important part of our natural environment. These small mammals are crucial to the seed dispersal and pollination of many plants and consume a large number of insects pests.
Firstly bats are not blind, despite what people may think, they use echolocation, which is an incredible ability to navigate in complete darkness, they radiate supersonic sounds that bounce of objects and are then picked up by their supersensitive ears which enable them to manoeuvre swiftly through the night.
The forelimbs of bats are webbed and developed as wings making them the only mammals naturally capable of flight. They have tiny bones that support the wing membranes, which are actually very similar to the structure to the bones in our own hands.
There are known to be 1240 species of bats worldwide, 17 of them breeding in the UK, including a less commonly seen ‘little brown bat’ (myotis) which can live for up to 40 years, which is lucky considering that these mammals are the slowest reproductive animal for their size, giving birth oftenly only once per year! Making them very vulnerable to extinction.
Bats habitat Some bats such as the ‘long eared’ bat have exceptionally good hearing that they can even hear a ladybird walking on a leaf!
The more frequently seen Pipistrelle bat has an amazing appetite and can consume up to 3000 insects a night, mainly consisting of mosquitos and tiny nats. Which is great for us right!
Bats can be found in forests, farmlands, wooded parks and gardens, as their natural habitats become more scarce, they depend on shelter to keep them safe from predators, water and an endless supply of insect. Habitat choice can vary between species, and others may travel far to find that perfect home.
Bat numbers are decreasing rapidly, due to a number of causes such as pesticide poisoning, habitat loss, over exploitation, inadvertent and deliberate human disturbance or destruction of colonies and hibernation.
To help bats survive and keep your back garden mosquito free you can always set up a bat house, a warm shelter for these amazing creatures to start habitat in.