3rd July 2007

One of our tiniest mammals could be under threat from the severe weather conditions that have swept the UK during the past week.

Calls to the national Bat Helpline are poised to reach record numbers, as an increasing number of people are finding baby bats abandoned on the ground or in their homes.

The Bat Helpline, run by the Bat Conservation Trust, receives almost 10,000 enquiries a year and provides free information and advice to anyone who needs help with a bat.

The wet weather could not have come at a worse time - at this time of year, female bats give birth to just a single baby (called a pup). The babies are tiny, usually around the size of a 50p coin. The wet weather means there are fewer insects for bats to feed on, which means they may not be able to produce milk for their babies. This can result in a higher number of bats being forced to leave their babies behind, or risk starvation.

BCT's Bat Helpline officer, Helen Miller says: "The helpline is taking a lot of calls from worried people who've found a tiny baby bat on the ground and aren't sure what to do. In this type of weather, the risk of babies being abandoned increases. In other cases, the baby can simply crawl out of the roost and fall to the ground or its mum may accidentally drop it while flying between roosts."

"We would urge anyone who finds a baby bat to call the Bat Helpline straight away."

British bats are most active during the summer. And this is the time when many householders discover they are sharing their space with bats, which have established a roost in their roof space or garden. The helpline provides reassurance and advice, and can even arrange a free visit for householders from a volunteer bat worker (on behalf of Natural England). After speaking to the helpline, most people are happy to keep their batty tenants, and some even volunteer for the Bat Conservation Trust's National Bat Monitoring Programme by counting their colony each year.

In the UK, we are lucky enough to have 17 different species of bats, accounting for almost a third of UK mammal species. All UK bats and their roosts are protected by law, as a result of dramatic declines in numbers during the last century.

If anyone comes across a bat on the ground, they should contact the Bat Helpline immediately on 0845 1300 228 . People should wear gloves if they have to touch a bat to avoid being bitten or scratched.

For further information, contact:Jaime Eastham Tel: 0207 501 3635jeastham@bats.org.uk