In the UK, there are 17 species of bats living and breeding. However, the Bat Conservation Trust reports that only 9 of those can be found in Scotland, mostly because of the tough weather conditions.
Since the climate is gentler, the nights longer, and there are more trees and insects as you go south and west, the number of Scottish species increases accordingly. So only the tough little pipistrelle lives in Orkney, whereas the central belt has around six bat species.
The hardy bats that survive the tough Scottish conditions are: three types of pipistrelle (the soprano, common and Nathusius), the brown long-eared bat, the Daubenton’s bat, the Natterer’s bat, the whispered bat, the noctule bat, and the Leisler’s bat.
As they require a huge number of insects to survive and only hunt at night, the typical Scottish short summer nights give the local bats little time to feed – and if the weather is cold, wet, and windy, hunting is not even worth the effort, since it can be difficult to find insects.
The five bat species officially recognised at our Nature Reserves are: the brown long-eared bat, the soprano pipistrelle, the common pipistrelle, the Daubenton’s bat, and the noctule bat.
With light brown fur, broad wings, and ears nearly as big as their bodies, brown long-eared bats are gleaners that often catch food in free flight. They are also known as whispering bats, since their echolocation sounds are very quiet.
As the most common bat species in the UK, you are most likely to see a Pipistrelle in the wild. They are both medium to dark brown and their most significant difference is the frequency of their echolocation calls: the Soprano’s, as you may deduct, are higher in frequency.
Also known as the water bat, these red brown medium-sized bats are very steady fliers. They usually fly within centimetres of water and they are known for taking insects directly from the water surface.
As the biggest bat found in the UK, the Nocule Bat is known for its powerful and narrow wings, which allows him to fly fast and steady well above tree-top level. They mostly feed mid-flight, by catching insects with their wings.
Due to the loss of suitable roosts, foraging habitat, and reduced availability of insects due to pesticide use, bat numbers suffered a major decline across Europe in the 20th century. At Highland Titles, we are serious about our local bats’ protection and conservation.
Bats play a vital role as indicators of biodiversity, as pollinators, as pest controllers, and as seed dispersers and reforesters. Our main efforts to support bat protection and conservation include: