Living with Bats in Leicestershire
14th February 2019
14th February 2019
Bats are amazing animals that are important to ecosystems in the UK and worldwide. There are 18 species of bat in the UK, all of which are protected under UK and European law. As natural roosting sites have become scarce, so the number of artificial roost sites has increased in the form of houses, bridges, barns etc. Bat populations in the UK have declined dramatically over the past century due to persecution and habitat loss, but as a responsible roost owner, you are helping secure the future of these fascinating creatures.
Having a roost should not present any problems; many home-owners and tenants share their property with bats without being alerted to their presence. Bats are not rodents, they do not nibble or gnaw wood or wires and will not generally cause any structural damage. Bats use existing spaces to roost, and will not bring in bedding material or food - they are clean and sociable animals which spend many hours grooming themselves. All bats in the UK are insectivores, so their droppings are made up of dried insect remains.
In the UK, bats and their roosts are protected by law such that it is illegal to damage, destroy or disturb any bats or roosts. A roost is defined as any place that a wild bat uses for shelter or protection, and the roost is protected whether bats are present in it or not. If you need to undertake any works that may affect your roost, it is recommended that you take the necessary precautions by seeking advice on how to do works lawfully. You may be eligible to a free roost visit through your Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation who can provide the advice you need to proceed with work. You can contact the National Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228 for advice on how to arrange this.
Occasionally roost owners may have some issues due to the presence of a bat roost, for example if the colony is well established or the roost is large or awkwardly situated, however the majority of problems can easily be resolved.
You may be interested in taking part in the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) Roost Count, which involves counting your bats as they emerge on two evenings during the summer survey period. Not only is this an enjoyable way to spend an evening and to learn more about bats, but the results from this and other NBMP surveys are very important to track changes in the UK’s bat populations. For more information and to sign up to take part, please visit: http://nbmp.bats.org.uk/Surveys.aspx or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7820 7166.
You may also like to record the presence of your roost on The Big Bat Map: www.bigbatmap.org.
Your local bat group may run bat walks and talks where you can learn more about local bats and they may be able to help you identify the species of bat that you have roosting in your property. You can find the local bat group for your area at: www.bats.org.uk/batgroups.
- Bat Conservation Trust (BCT)