Bats!!! What first comes to mind when you see a picture of a bat? Answers in the comments please!
Is it vampires, caves and spooky stories? Or an important and protected mammal which is a vital part of our native wildlife? I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea but personally, I find them fascinating…. and yes even a little bit cute. Except for fruit bats – now they’re really cute – not just a little bit!!
They are regular visitors to our garden and we love to watch them circling around whenever we light the fire. We think the heat from the fire drives the flies up into the air and so the bats swoop in for a feast. There’s something very beautiful about the way they flutter – silent and fleeting. They disappear into the trees but soon come round again for another circuit, seeming to follow the same path over and over again until they’ve had their fill and head off to find another feeding ground.
This inspired us to make some bat boxes, partly for ourselves – partly to sell on our stalls, but to do so we had to find out more about them first!
Bats play an important role in many environments around the world – pollinating plants, controlling pests, dispersing seeds and helping reforestation. In the UK bats are known as ‘indicator species’ because changes to their population tell us a lot about the wider health of the UK’s wildlife. Their future is directly linked to our quality of life and the quality of our environment.
Bat populations declined so drastically over the past century that they are now protected by law and starting to show signs of increasing again. Bat boxes can help increase population growth by providing the bats with additional safe places to roost, to breed and to hibernate. Mating season starts in September and continues into October, at the same time they’re building up fat reserves ready to survive the winter. Around now they also start seeking out suitable hibernation sites and activity slows down as the weather cools. By December hopefully they’ve all found a place to snuggle up – usually cavities in old buildings or trees – where they will hibernate until March.
If you have bats in your area and would like to learn more about them, I have found loads of information on the Bat Conservation Trust website – it tells you how to make a bat box and the best placement for them… or if you don’t have time to make one yourself you can order one of ours – they come with some basic info and if you buy two you get a third free!
Fun Bat Facts:
- A tiny pipistrelle can eat 3,000 insects in one night.
- Bats are more closely related to humans than they are to mice.
- Bats usually have only one baby each year and can live up to 30 years!!
I’ve also joined my local bat group and looking forward to learning more about these incredible creatures and how I can help protect them…. and if we get any residents in our bat boxes I’ll be sure to let you know!
Until next time…