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The noctule is the largest bat in Scotland. It roosts in ... · PDF fileIt roosts in trees and emerges before sunset ... Mothers and babies in a cosy maternity roost. Trees are used

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  • Bats in ScotlandAn introduction to the bats of Scotland

    The noctule is the largest bat in Scotland. It roosts in trees and emerges before sunset

    to hunt for moths and flying beetles.

    Find out more about bats in Scotland.

  • Bats across Scotland

    There are 17 species of bat living and breeding in the UKbut only 9 species are tough enough to survive in Scotland.They range from the plucky pipistrelle to the noisy noctule.

    The number of species increases as you go south and west.

    Bats up northNo bats live permanently in Shetland but occasional waifsand strays get blown in and turn up as surprise visitors onislands and oil rigs.

    Orkney holds the record for having the most northerly (andhardiest) bats.

    Sunny and Wet south west is bestAll 9 Scottish species occur in Dumfries and Galloway.

    Threave Estate owned bythe National Trust forScotland is a specialbat reserve where thepublic can visit atdusk and follow self-guided bat trails.

    What to spotPipistrellesfeeding overseaweed.The most northerlyNatterers bats near Tain.Daubentons bats at NessIslands (Inverness).Pipistrelles at sunset.Aristocratic brown long-eared bats at CrathesCastle.Watch out for whiskered bats.Noisy noctules over the river Tweed.Look out for Leislers in Wood of Cree.

    Add your sightings, find bat hotspots andevents on the Big Bat Map









    Bats in Scotland

    Battling for survival its a hard lifeA bats life is not an easy one. Bats must eat huge numbers of insects tosurvive and find different, safe roosts for bringing up their babies and forhibernation. They are sometimes misunderstood and feared which makes lifeeven more of a challenge.

    Bats in ScotlandScottish bats have to be particularly hardy. The short summer nights give littletime to feed and if the summer night is cold, wet or windy it can be difficultto find insects. If the weather is cold, wet and windythen it is not worth the effort of hunting.

    One bat species,the tough littlepipistrelle lives

    in Orkney.



    Three batspecies in

    the far north

    Expect fivespeciesaround


    The central belthas around six

    bat species

    Here be dragons!and more bats





    4 5





    t om

    e te r




    Few trees

    Wild, wetand windyweather


    More trees

    More insects


    More batspecies


  • The pipistrelle is the bat you are mostlikely to have sharing your house. Theyare the smallest British bat and can eatthousands of small insects on a warmsummers night.

    The noctule is the biggest, noisiest and fastest batin Scotland. It can fly at 30mph, shouts four timeslouder than the legal limit for a nightclub (buthumans cant hear most of the call) and is boldenough to emerge before sunset. These bats arerarely found in houses preferring to roost in trees.

    The Natterersbat can skim low over grassand grabcaterpillers for a juicy bat snack.

    The Daubentons bat occasionally roosts inhouses but is more commonly found in bridgesand trees. It feeds by skimming very low overthe surface of freshwater where its flight pathmakes it easy to identify.

    The bats that live in Scotland are: three types of pipistrelle*, brownlong-eared, Daubentons, Natterers, whiskered, noctule and last butnot least the Leislers bat. *The soprano, common and Nathusius pipistrelles.

    Brown long-eared bats havearistocratic tastes, they like bigold houses set in beautifulgrounds. This makes them veryvulnerable; if they lose a roost likethis there is unlikely to be anotherin their home territory.

    Brown long-eared

    Natterers bat



    Daubentons bat

  • Summer and Winter roostsThe natural place for a bat to roost is in a tree, cave or rock face but many treeshave been cut down so bats have adapted to using man-made structures likebridges and houses as roosts.

    Summer RoostsMothers need warm roosts whilebringing up babies.

    Each mother usually has only one babya year.

    A maternity roost may have over ahundred bats (depending on thespecies).

    Mothers return to favourite roosts yearafter year.

    Winter RoostsDuring winter bats need cool, frost-free,humid and undisturbed sites for hibernation.

    Where they all hibernate is a bit of a mysteryas we find only small numbers in winter,usually in underground sites, in thick stonewalls or in trees.

    Where do bats live? Finding food

    Bats are not blind but at night their ears are more useful to them thantheir eyes. As they fly they shout and then listen for an echo. The batsuse the echoes to build a sound picture of what is ahead of them. Theycan tell the size and shape of objects this way and, if an object ismoving, how fast it is going and in which direction.

    This process is called echo-location. Most of the calls the bats make aretoo high-pitched for human ears. However we can tune in to bat callsby listening on a bat detector. Different bats have different calls andbat detector sounds range from dry clicks to wet slappy sounds.

    How do bats hunt in the dark?

    Mothers and babies in a cosy maternity roost.

    Trees are used in summer and winter.A bat in a winterroost withcondensation on its fur.

    When bats home in on an insect they make a series of very fastcalls. This is described as a feeding buzz.

  • Helping bats

    Bat watching When?The best time to watch for bats is either just around sunset or just beforedawn on a warm, calm summers night. Unfortunately in some parts ofScotland this is also the time when midge numbers are at their greatest. Italso means staying up very late!

    Where?The best places to watch forbats are where there are lots ofinsects. Areas with trees andfresh water are especially good.If you live by the coast you maysee bats feeding over piles ofseaweed on the shore.

    How you can help batsThe Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) wants a future where everyone, everywhere can enjoyseeing and hearing bats as part of their natural environment.

    Your help can make a difference! Become a member of BCT today and help us to ensurethese amazing mammals are protected for future generations to enjoy. You can join onlineor over the telephone. We can also provide details of your local bat group.

    National Bat Helpline: 0845 1300 228 [email protected]

    Produced with the support of Scottish Natural Heritage

    Photos courtesy of Hugh Clark, John Haddow, Anne Youngman, Martin Celuch and John Altringham.Artwork by Lyn Wells. The Bat Conservation Trust is a registered charity, number for Scotland SC040116.Company limited by guarantee number 2712823.

    Bat Conservation Trust

    Add your bat sightings to the BIG BAT MAP at

    Printed March 2012