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Threats to Bats

Sadly, many bat species around the world are vulnerable or endangered due to factors ranging from loss and fragmentation of habitat, diminished food supply, destruction of roosts, disease and hunting or killing of bats.

In the UK, bat populations have declined considerably over the last century. Bats are still under threat from building and development work that affects roosts, loss of habitat, the severing of commuting routes by roads and threats in the home including cat attacks, flypaper and some chemical treatments of building materials. Other potential threats can include wind turbines and lighting if they are sited on key bat habitat on near roosts.

Building and development work

Building under development (Patty Briggs)Many bat species roost in buildings and are extremely vulnerable to the activities of humans. Bats using a building are directly threated by building works if they are present while the work is underway or if a demolition is taking place. If bats disturbed at a particularly sensitive time of year (e.g. during hibernation in winter or when baby bats are born and raised in the summer), it can have hugely detrimental impacts on local bat populations.

Read more on the scientific research into the impacts of development on bat populations

Habitat loss

A tree with a bat roostThe decrease in bat numbers mirrors the ever-changing countryside. Natural habitats such as hedgerows, woodlands and ponds have been declining and fragmenting. It is important that we create new suitable habitats and manage and enhance existing habitats to help bats recover and survive.

Loss of habitat, the use of pesticides and intensive farming practices have lead to a reduction in the abundance of insects which the bats rely on as their only food source. For example the change from hay making to silage, has meant that many insects do not reach adulthood so there are less flying adults available. Changes in climate may also influence insect life cycles and so this may affect when bats can feed.

Read more on the scientific research into the impacts of agri-environment schemes, loss of linear features and climate change on bat populations.

Find out more

 Encourage bats in your neighbourhood by putting up bat boxes and growing bat-friendly plants in gardens.

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Bat Helpline

0345 1300 228