Bats and Churches
Bats have found sanctuary in churches for centuries. They use the many nooks and crannies in churches as safe places to roost. As bats' natural habitats become scarce, churches are playing a vital role in the survival of these endangered mammals. Some of the UK's older churches have provided valuable roosting sites for generations of bats, which return faithfully to the same roost year after year.
Advice for Churches
Bats living in churches often go unnoticed because there are so few of them or because they roost within the roof structure and remain mainly out of sight. Sometimes, however, the roost is within the internal structure. In few cases, bat droppings and urine - generally limited to an area under the roost - can be deemed a problem.
Bats and their roosts are all protected by law so there is a legal obligation not to disturb bats or damage their roosts. If your church is finding bats to be a problem, please be assured that a bit of creative thinking usually means you can provide a safe haven for the bats while minimising any damage and disturbance to the church or congregation.
If you need information or advice on bats, seek advice from our Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228). Bat Helpline Officers can give general information and advice about bats and arrange a roost visit on behalf of Natural England.
Natural England has produced a document, Bats in Churches: a Management Guide, that identifies ways to overcome any difficulties associated with the droppings and urine of bats within churches, including effects these may have on historically significant items. It also contains advice on maintenance, repairs and alterations where bats or their roost may be affected.
It is important to be aware that bats can be disturbed when churches that contain a bat roost are floodlit. For information on how lighting can affect bats, download Bats and Lighting in the UK.