The Bat – Under the Spotlight

In the run up to peak Bat Survey season, REC’s intern Alex Reavley was inspired by our article on Great Crested Newts Greg and Glenda to embark on a mission to get their (extremely) long distant cousins, Barry and Brenda, on board. Considering bats are nocturnal, Alex went above and beyond the call of duty as an intern to get this scoop. Below are the key facts that Barry and Brenda were willing to reveal about their species and their relationship – and believe me, Brenda didn’t hold back. Excellent interviewing skills Alex – well done.

  • Bats like Barry and Brenda are the only true flying mammals, they account for more than 25% of all UK mammal species. But, Barry says, bats are facing many threats such as predators, crime and loss of their habitat.
  •  There are a total of 18 species of bats in the UK, 17 of which are known to be breeding here. However, bats can usually only have one baby a year and can live up to thirty years, so you don’t have to be good at maths to work out how popular Barry and Brenda are.
  • At birth, a pup (that’s a baby bat, not dog) can weigh up to a quarter of its mother’s body weight, which Brenda points out, is the same as a human having an excruciatingly huge 31 pound baby. “The pups are generally raised by the mothers in maternity colonies”, Brenda says, “whilst the fathers, (she glances at Barry), do not help to raise the pups at all”. Apparently, Barry is always down the pub watching the football.
  • Barry (below) is part of the Common Pipistrelle species and is the most common bat in the British Isles. He only weighs 5 grams (the same weight as a sheet of paper), but can still manage to stuff himself on 3,000 insects a night using echolocation to find out where they are. All this as well as going to the pub – Barry’s got life pretty sorted by the sounds of it.

bat in hand 2

  • Brenda, however, is a Brown long-eared bat (main picture), another common species throughout the UK. A medium sized bat, with ears almost as long as her body Brenda can hear something as quiet as a ladybird walking on a leaf, or perhaps Barry sneaking home.
  • In the UK all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, meaning that it is illegal to deliberately kill, capture or hurt a bat, disturb, damage or destroy their roost and/or obstruct access to it.
  • For any planning application that impacts buildings, trees and other potential roosting sites for Barry and Brenda, a bat survey needs to be carried out by a licensed bat consultant (like REC) or it will be refused by planning authorities.
  • Bats are now emerging from hibernation, which means that now is the time that bat surveys can be undertaken, with peak times of the year being May to August.Bat

If you wish to find out more information about Bat Surveys or think you may need one, please get in touch with our Ecologists on 0161 868 1300 or email

Thanks to Alex for staying up late to write this, as well as Barry and Brenda for being so honest.