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Buildings, Planning and Development

Why do bats roost in buildings?

Bats and people have been sharing dwellings for thousands of years. As natural roosting sites have become scarce due to development and land use change, so the number of artificial roost sites has increased in the form of houses, bridges, mines, barns, icehouses, etc.

Man-made roosts can provide stable micro-climates for the bats. Loss of natural roosts has increased the importance of man-made structures for bats to the point that artificial roosts are becoming essential in the survival of many bat species. However even these man-made roosts are now under threat; demolition of old buildings, renovations, changes in use, artificial lighting and the move towards air-tight buildings, all have implications for bat populations using buildings.

Which bats roost in buildings?

Natterer's bat in brick work

All UK bat species have been known to use buildings, but some species are more building reliant than others. Different bat species select different types of roosts in buildings since they look for sites comparable to those chosen in natural habitats.

Bats that use buildings can generally be divided into four categories, although there is regional variation and some species can occupy more than one category:

  • Crevice-dwelling bats (which tend to be hidden from view) include the common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, Nathusius’ pipistrelle, Brandt's bat and whiskered bat.
  • Roof-void dwelling bats (that may be visible on roof timbers) are serotine, Leisler's bat, Daubenton's bat and barbastelle.
  • Bats that need flight space in certain types of roost are Natterer's bat, and brown and grey long-eared bat.
  • Bats that need flight space and flying access into the roost are greater horseshoe and lesser horseshoe bat.

Find out more about:

Find out more

Bats and Buildings (2 MB) - 19/04/12
Guidance for built environment professionals,consultants, building owners and managers on conservation actions to promote and cater for bats in buildings.

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