If bats are unexpectedly discovered during the course of operations all works should cease immediately and a licensed bat worker should be employed who will contact Natural England and the Bat Conservation Trust.
The BCT is a charity that does a lot of good work for the conservation of bats. They organise and run lots of projects with the aim of creating better habitats for bats. For more information visit the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) website. http://www.bats.org.uk/
Unlike birds bats do not make nests, and roost in different places at various times of the year. Some bats roost in hollow trees, some roost in caves and some bats will roost in both at different times of the year. Many of our more common bat species shelter in buildings in cracks in masonry, underneath roof tiles ,behind hanging tiles and behind boarding with some bats preferring open roof spaces. During the summer female bats gather together in a maternity roost where they suckle their young. They stay here until the infant bats can fly and feed themselves. Bats roost in new houses as well as old. You are most likely to notice bats in your property during the summertime as this is when they are most active. Bats are clean animals and will not damage your property.
All our native British bats eat insects. Each species hunts its favourite type in its own way. Most insects are caught and eaten in flight, although sometimes bats will stop and hang up to eat larger prey. Flying uses up a lot of energy and bats eat huge numbers of insects every night. A common pipistrelle (our smallest bat) can eat more than 3000 tiny insects in just one night.
Contrary to popular belief bats can see, but as they are active at night their ears are more important. Bats use echolocation to navigate around obstacles in the dark and hunt their prey by shouting, and then listening for the echoes bouncing back to them. This is so effective that the bat can gather information on the size shape and direction of an insect in a fraction of a second.
Bats are under threat and numbers have declined rapidly over the last century, which is the reason it is so important to protect them. Some of the main threats are:
• Loss of feeding habitats and flight lines such as hedgerows, woodlands and ponds
• Loss of insects to eat due to pesticides and intensive farming practices
• Roost destruction due to building and development without proper consideration of the species
All bats and their roosts are fully protected by law. Destroying a bat roost or foraging grounds could have devastating consequences for the local bat population, and could land you with a fine or even a jail sentence and some very bad publicity. Any works which could affect bats must be carried out under a European Protected Species licence issued by Natural England.