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28th Nov, 2021

Bat-lovers trying to track down elusive breed in Warwickshire

A WARWICKSHIRE group of bat-lovers is trying to track down an elusive type of bat thought to be in the county, and is dispelling myths around the misunderstood mammals to coincide with Bat Week at the end of this month.

Warwickshire Bat Group works to conserve bats, whose population is dwindling because of loss of habitat and food supply due to the use of pesticides and, in part, to climate change.

Group secretary Julia Waller said: “One of our main projects that we have been continuing with, despite the pandemic, is our detective work in trying to locate one of Warwickshire’s rarer species of bat – the Serotine. We are especially trying to find where they call home, in other words their ‘roosts’.

“Although we haven’t been successful with locating these bats so far, which are one of the larger species in the UK with a wingspan of over 30cm, we will be continuing with the project.

“This will allow us to not only build up a picture of all the other more common types of bats we have in the county, but also spot other rare species. In fact, it has already recorded bat calls from another rare species of bat known as the Barbastelle.”

The group also aims to raise awareness around our nocturnal neighbours which, thanks to a certain vampire, have become a staple of Halloween culture.

Julia Waller added: “Bats are much misunderstood mammals. Primitive man’s fear of the dark and the creatures that were active in it has left a legacy of myths and fears, and that’s why we are here to help spread the truth and dispel the myths.”

And recently the group teamed up with housebuilder Mulberry Homes to install bat boxes alongside some of its properties in a bid to boost the ailing UK species.

Mulberry spokeswoman Kerry Jones said: “At Mulberry, one of our key missions is to help improve the environments which surround our homes.

“This is why we have installed bat boxes at our new housing development, The Templars, to help provide these fascinating mammals with further protection and shelter.

“We hope that with the ecological work we are carrying out across our developments, we can help to protect and attract wildlife to local areas where we are building our homes.”

Warwickshire Bat Group hopes to further to improve education and resources around bats after winter – when bats tend to hibernate due to a decrease in insect food.

Six myth-busting facts from Warwickshire Bat Group:

  • ‘Bats are blind’ – all bats have good eyesight and only switch to echolocation – sending out sound waves and listening for the reflected sound – when it gets too dark for them to find their way.
  • ‘Bats are just flying mice’ – bats are mammals but are more closely related to dogs than rodents – they feed their young on milk.
  • ‘They can get tangled in your hair’ – bats are very agile flyers as, unlike birds, they can readily change the shape of their wings. They swoop surprisingly close, but they are just after the insects which are attracted to body heat.
  • ‘All bats drink blood’ – out of over 1,400 species of bat, there are only three that feed on blood. What’s more the species live in Central and South America. UK bats eat only insects.
  • ‘Their nests can cause damage’ – bats do not build nests like birds or chew on anything. They just crawl into small gaps to rest or hang from a convenient spot.
  • ‘Bats breed like mice or rats’ – bats only have about one baby a year, or sometimes none at all if the weather is bad or there is a lack of insect food about.

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