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Bats among Britain's favourite mammals

17 September 2008

Bats are among Britain’s top ten favourite mammals, according to a recent nationwide survey by BBC Wildlife Magazine.

Bats were ranked at number ten in the BBC Wildlife Magazine survey, behind other charismatic creatures including the dolphin, badger, fox and otter.

BBC Wildlife Magazine heralded bats’ high ranking as “a miraculous turnaround” and credited the Bat Conservation Trust for helping to improve their popularity -- although of course this turnaround wouldn't have been possible without the skills and dedication of volunteers throuhgout the UK. Bats, which are noted for their elusiveness, failed to make the top ten when the survey was carried out previously in 2000.

Features Editor Fergus Collins said, “Our poll seems to reflect a more positive attitude towards bats. People no longer associate them solely with horror films, and instead see them as fascinating mammals in their own right. Nowadays, it's almost seen as a badge of honour to have bats roosting in your loft.”

A vital part of our native wildlife, bats account for almost a third of all mammal species in the UK. Our 17 species of bats are all under threat from a loss of habitat and fewer insects to feed on, and have suffered severe declines during the past century.  

The survey results follow the designation earlier this year of bats as official “indicator species”, which help measure how UK wildlife and the environment are faring.

As voted by readers of BBC Wildlife Magazine, Britain’s top ten favourite mammals are:

1. Otter 
2. Hedgehog 
3= Badger 
3= Fox 
5. Squirrel 
6. Deer 
7. Mouse 
8. Dolphin 
9. Stoat 
10. Bat

For further information:
Neil Young
Tel: 0207 501 3635
Email: nyoung@bats.org.uk

Bat facts

  • There are 17 species of bats resident in the UK – that's more than a quarter of our mammal species.
  • Bats usually only have one baby at a time and can live up to 30 years.
  • Bats are more closely related to people than mice.
  • Britain's most common bat, the pipistrelle, is only 4cm long and weighs about 5 grams – less than a 2p coin.
  • A tiny pipistrelle bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in a night.
  • There are over 1,100 bat species in the world (accounting for 20 per cent of all mammal species). Three-quarters of these eat insects just as British bats do. In the tropics bats also eat many other foods – fruit, flowers, frogs, fish, blood, even other bats!
  • Bats do not build nests; they hang, or creep into cracks and crannies.
  • Bats have excellent navigation skills – they won't get caught in your hair!
  • There are thousands of volunteers working for bats in the UK alone. The Bat Conservation Trust's National Bat Helpline handles more than 10,000 enquiries a year from the public.

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