22nd August 2007

Thousands of people across the UK will be busy this August Bank Holiday weekend enjoying a host of special batty events taking place to celebrate European Bat Weekend.

The celebratory weekend is being organised by the Bat Conservation Trust in an effort to help people understand more about these amazing, but often misunderstood, mammals.

In the UK, our 17 species of bats and their roosts are protected by law as a result of a rapid decline in numbers during the last century. Bats make up almost a third of mammal species in the UK and are indicators of healthy environment.

Amy Coyte, Chief Executive of the Bat Conservation Trust, said: "Bats are truly unique animals which are sadly under threat in the UK, largely due to the destruction of habitats and the loss of roosts. "European Bat Weekend is an ideal way for people to learn more about the problems facing bats, and to find out how they can help."

Almost a hundred bat walks and talks have been arranged by local Bat Groups, Wildlife Trusts, countryside rangers and other organisations up and down the country to bring people a little closer to bats and to celebrate the contribution bats make to biodiversity in the UK.

"Bat walks offer people a truly magical way of seeing and hearing bats in their natural environment. The Bat Conservation Trust is happy to be able to share this experience with so many people."

Those taking part in the bat walks will be using devices called 'bat detectors' which enable people to hear bats as they fly by. Bats use a sonar sense called echolocation to find their way around at night. With bat detectors, we can tune into the sounds they make and determine what species of bat are present.

European Bat Weekend was born out of a European-wide celebration of bats held every August, called European Bat Night (this year taking place on 24 th August).

The Bat Conservation Trust has developed an interactive events guide for European Bat Weekend. To find a batty event in your area, visit our events page.

Information on European events can be found at http://www.eurobats.org

For further information or to arrange an interview, contact the BCT press office.

Bat Facts

  • There are 17 bat species in the UK. The smallest is the pipistrelle, measuring just 5cm from head to toe; the largest is the greater mouse-eared bat, which until recently was thought extinct in this country.
  • Like all mammals, bats are warm-blooded, give birth and suc kle their young. They are very sociable animals, living together in colonies. They are long-lived (some can live for up to 30 years), are intelligent, highly mobile and more agile in flight than most birds.
  • Bats fly and feed in the dark, which they are able to do by producing a stream of high frequency calls and listening to the returning echoes which give a distinct 'sound picture' of the surroundings. This is called echolocation, and can only be heard by humans through use of a device called a bat detector.
  • Bats in the UK eat only insects (such as midges, moths and mosquitoes), which they catch in flight or pick off water, foliage or the ground. The pipistrelle can eat up to 3,000 midges in one night - one-third of its body weight!
  • Declining bat numbers have made it necessary to legally protect all UK bats and their roosts, whether they are in residence or not. This protection also makes it an offence to block their entrance and exit holes without seeking advice.