Bechstein's Bat

Myotis bechsteinii

  1. Wildlife
  2. Mammals
  3. Bechstein's Bat

About

Found almost exclusively in woodland, Bechstein's Bat is one of our rarest bats. Like all British bats they are nocturnal, feeding on midges, moths and other flying insects which they find in the dark by using echolocation. Bechstein's Bats hibernate over the winter. Mating occurs in autumn and spring, with maternity colonies forming in April and May. Females gather in colonies of between 10 and 30 bats, but can number up to 100 in some cases. Babies are born in June and July.

How to identify

Bechstein's Bats have pink faces, long ears which are clearly separated at the forehead, reddish-brown fur on their back and pale-grey fur underneath.

Where to find it

Very rare, found in southern Wales and parts of southern England.

Habitats

When to find it

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

Bechstein's Bats are very rare due to the extensive loss of our woodland habitats. Pesticide-use has also reduced their insect-prey. The Wildlife Trusts are working hard to restore our native woodlands and you can help our bats in your own garden, too, by putting up a bat box. Pick a tree that gets some sun during the day, but is near to a hedge or other trees. All UK bats and their roosts are protected by law, which means it is illegal to harm or disturb them.

Local information

In 2012 the People’s Trust for Endangered Species gave us funding to conduct a detailed study of one of the UK’s rarest mammals. With ecologists Johnny Birks and Eric Palmer, volunteers from Worcestershire Bat Group joined us at Grafton Wood to undertake radio-tracking of Bechstein’s bats with the aim of identifying foraging areas and roost sites to help guide future management.

  • They’re a member of the Myotis genus of bats and are very difficult to locate by conventional survey techniques. Because of this relatively little is known of their ecology, behaviour or true population
  • In 2005 it was believed there were just 1500 individual Bechstein’s bats in England, confined to a handful of sites in the south. Apart from a record in 1993, from a trading estate in Evesham, the bat was unknown in Worcestershire.
  • In 2010, as part of a Bat Conservation Trust survey, volunteers from Worcestershire Bat Group captured a lactating female Bechstein’s in Grafton Wood. We realised we needed to conduct further studies.

2012’s study proved fascinating and. Below are a few highlights...

  • Discrete foraging areas were recorded, mostly in closed-canopy woodland with dense understorey.
  • 11 day roosts were identified (all in trees that were both in and outside Grafton Wood) in woodpecker holes in ash or crack willow.
  • Emergence counts suggest there is a minimum of 50 adult females in the colony.
  • Frequent roost-switching by the whole colony was recorded; highlighting the importance of a ready supply of suitable roost trees within a territory.
  • Bat activity and roosting was concentrated in the southern half of Grafton Wood and beyond - the wider countryside to the south being a largely un-wooded area.

For more information you can download the full report.

 

Species information

Common name
Bechstein's Bat
Latin name
Myotis bechsteinii
Category
Mammals
Statistics
Length: 8cm Wingspan: 25-30cm Weight: 7-13g Average lifespan: up to 20 years
Conservation status
Classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.