The Loneliest Bat in Britain
Our Senior Ecologist Becci was lucky enough on Saturday to catch a glimpse of a rare creature. The greater mouse-eared bat was declared extinct in the UK in 1990. One solitary specimen was then recorded Sussex in 2002 and he continues to be the only known bat of this species alive in the UK.
This male specimen has never been observed in flight, but year after year he returns to hibernate for five months in a damp and disused railway tunnel in Sussex. Despite many searches, no-one knows where he spends the rest of the year or if there are any more of his tribe.
The greater mouse-eared bat is not only distinctive for its ears but also its size – it has a wingspan of nearly half a metre, making it the largest species of bat in the UK. Its feeding habits are also distinctive – instead of zig-zagging through the air catching flying insects, the greater mouse-eared bat feeds from the ground on grasshoppers, crickets and other flightless insects.
We hope that this (not so) little fella is not alone and that there is still hope for this species in the UK.
Becci was volunteering for the Sussex Bat Group (www.sussexbatgroup.org.uk) taking part in their annual hibernation counts.
For more info about bat surveys, please get in touch.
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