The barbastelle is very rare, found in southern and central England and Wales. Their calls sound like short, hard smacks, in fast and then slower pulses. Echolocation can be heard at approximately 32 kHz.
Barbastelle are fast, agile flyers and forage amongst trees swooping to drink from ponds or lakes. But they may also forage in quite open areas.
They are relatively tolerant of the cold, and are found in caves, tunnels, cellars and trees. In the UK they are also known to roost in cavities behind joints of timber-framed buildings, between close fitting roof timbers and in hollow tree trunks. Occasionally they can be found behind loose bark on dead trees, and movement between winter roosts is quite frequent, they have been known to fly and forage in mild spells all winter.
The barbastelle is a medium-sized bat, distinctive by its pug-shaped nose. The ears are broad, joined across its head by skin, and covered in gingery-brown fur on the rear surface. Its body fur is dark with lighter tips on the back. Its head and body length is 40mm –50mm and wingspan 260mm – 290mm. The barbastelle weighs 6g – 13g.
Females usually reach sexual maturity in their second year, although they have been known to mate in their first. Nursery roosts are usually with only 10-20 females plus babies. Baby bats are usually born in July, sometimes even in early August. Females usually produce a single baby, but occasionally twins. Juvenile bats can fly at about 3 weeks, and by 6 weeks can forage for themselves. Once the young can fly it seems that the colony may sometimes divide into smaller units and then gather at a single roost in late July – sometimes in one of the roosts used before the young were born.
Barbestelle feed mainly on small moths, some flies and beetles.
In Britain all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, by both domestic and international legislation.
Many thanks to the Bat Conservation Trust for allowing us to take this information; for more detailed reading please visit their website.