The pipistrelle is the smallest and most common of Britain's 18 species of bat. It belongs to the Vespertilionidae family of bats, known as ordinary or earlet bats, and appears earlier in the evening than most other bats.

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Feeding and flying

The pipistrelle hunts over a regular beat, flying at between 2 - 13 metres, usually up to 6 metres, above the ground. The bat eats mostly gnats, tiny moths and small caddisflies, hunting for them in open spaces around a building or tree, or above water. If a large insect is captured, it is taken to a perch to be eaten. A bat eats several hundred insects every day

When the pipistrelle is flying fast in the dark, it can avoid bumping into obstacles and track down prey by using a system of echo-location, similar to the radar-scanning equipment used in ships and aircraft. The bat frequently emits very high-pitched (ultrasonic) squeaks which bounce back from any solid object into its ears. In each ear there is a fleshy spike, known as a tragus, which receives the sound; the bat is able to interpret the time taken for the echo to return and 'see' its surroundings. A bat probably carries a sound picture of familiar territory, comparable to the visual memory of humans.

Read More: Breeding

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