Like all species of bat in Britain, the Natterer's bat is less common than it used to be. The reason for its decline is that its food and shelter has been seriously threatened by modern farming practices and destruction of natural habitats.

Natterer's Bat and Humans

Like all species of bat in Britain, the Natterer's bat is less common than it used to be. The reason for its decline is that its food and shelter has been seriously threatened by modern farming practices and destruction of natural habitats.

Many insects have been killed by insecticides used to destroy crop pests. Bats which eat surviving contaminated insects may accumalate poisons which kill them or stop them from having young. Herbicides (weedkillers) used by farmers and gardeners to destroy weeds takes away the food plants of insect larvae such as caterpillars - and this leads to even fewer insects for bats to eat.

Many countryside ponds have been drained or filled in; these are breeding habitats for several species of insects which would provide food for the bats. Hedgerows provide shelter for insects and miles of these important wildlife habitats have been removed to allow more room for crops and more working space for farm machinery. Old grassland is a good habitat for insects and provides bats with open areas to fly and hunt. Over the years, more and more old grassland has been ploughed up. The loss of mature deciduous woodland (the type made up of trees that lose their leaves in autumn) is a serious threat to bats. Conifer plantations support fewer insects and the trees do not have holes where bats can roost or hibernate. Caves are another important hibernation place and many of these have been blocked up.

Bats are harmless but scarey folk-tales have caused them to be feared by people over the years. Even today, some people drive bats out of house lofts and churches because they think they are doing harm. All species of bat are protected by law and it is an offence to interfere with bat roosts.

If the Natterer's bat is to survive into the 22nd century, it is important for everyone to realise that bats are useful because they eat many insects that damage crops and trees. Allowing bats to help control insect numbers is much less destructive than using chemical sprays, which can kill useful insects, such as pollinating bees, and other wildlife.

If you would like to find out more about bats and how to help them, visit the The Bat Conservation Trust.

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