© Peter Crome/www.bats.org.uk
Bats are amazing animals that play an important role in environments worldwide. In the UK, all 18 resident bat species feed on insects like midges, flies and moths and some do eat spiders too. So, they are valuable in helping to keep insect populations in check which is not just good for people but can have benefits for crops and gardens.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of misunderstanding, misinformation and fear of bats, but fortunately the National Bat Helpline is there to educate people about the wonder, beauty and value of bats, whilst finding solutions to help people and bats to live in harmony. With their vibrant social lives and fascinating behaviours, our tiny house guests are always up to something throughout the year, keeping our team of staff and volunteers on our toes year-round.
As the temperature starts to rise in the summer, so do our enquiries! Bats begin to stir from their lengthy slumbers in the spring and start to form their maternity roosts (a roost of bat mums and their pups) around May. They faithfully return to these nursery sites, gathering with other expectant mums in the safety of the roofs of houses, churches, and other buildings. The baby boom typically starts in June, when bats give birth to their one paperclip-sized pink pup. Bats are intelligent, inquisitive creatures and exploring babies often turn up in the most unexpected places after wondering off from the safety of their roosts. One baby bat even took a trip to the local school on a backpack!
© Danton Briggs/www.bats.org.uk
In this very busy summer season, our phones ring off the hook, as we assist thousands of people with all-manner of enquiries. As bats are now at their most active, enquiries from bat roost owners requiring support and work-related advice peak. We also get an influx of people requiring urgent advice on injured, grounded and baby bats, for which we provide emergency first aid advice and pass them on to a dedicated volunteer bat carer where possible. With so many bats needing help, the bat carers are armed and ready at all times with their trusty shoe boxes to receive their tiny casualties. The volunteer bat carers heal broken wing membranes, feed up starving orphaned babies and teach injured bats to fly again, all to ensure they have the best chance of making it back to the wild.
As well as additional seasonal staff in the summer, we have a vital team of around 50 trained volunteers who answer emergency phone calls outside of usual office hours. These volunteers provide advice on emergency enquiries including injured and grounded bats, bat crimes and disturbed roosts.
The work of the dedicated Out of Hours volunteers is critical to ensuring we save as many bats as possible. You can find out more about the project and donate to our crowd funder by following the link below. There are some amazing rewards up for grabs including a generous £50 voucher from Big Wild Thought and you will be making a real difference to bat conservation by making sure the OOH service happens. We only have until the 4th of March 2021 to raise the funds so please donate if you can and share far and wide:
© Daniel Hargreaves/www.bats.org.uk
As the days darken and the nights draw in, decreasing temperatures mean that bat activity reduces, giving our bat workers a much-needed rest! By October, bats have typically dispersed from their summer maternity roosts and are in search of their cooler winter quarters to hibernate. Despite enquiry volumes dropping significantly, our work is far from over. In the colder months, enquiries can be complex, and bats are at danger from being accidentally disturbed from hibernation during building works. And of course, the occasional bat turns up requiring emergency first aid advice in winter (which brings our volunteer bat workers out of hibernation too)!
From lost baby bats in June, to slumbering bats found in Christmas decorations in December, the National Bat Helpline is there to help bats and people throughout the year.
The ongoing support from Big Wild Thought will help Bat Conservation Trust to secure the future of bats in our ever-changing world.
Bat Conservation Trust
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