The Bats of Dumfries and Galloway

Bats are probably the most mysterious and fascinating mammals in Britain. Being small, active at night, living in crevices and other secret places and spending most of their lives hibernating or asleep, bats are very difficult to study or fully appreciate.

 

However, their reputation for being scary is undeserved, and as people learn more about them and understand them better they find just how fascinating and well evolved these creatures are.

Common pipistrelle on rock (© Rosie Corner / Bat Conservation Trust)
Common pipistrelle on rock (© Rosie Corner / Bat Conservation Trust)
Daubenton's bat on glove (© Hugh Clark / Bat Conservation Trust)
Daubenton's bat on glove (© Hugh Clark / Bat Conservation Trust)
Handle with care
Handle with care

Annual Cycle

January/February

Through entering a state of hibernation bats can conserve energy and survive the cold temperatures and low availability of food of winter months. A fat store built up over the previous summer will act as sustenance during leaner months.

March/April

As the night time temperatures begin to warm and food sources increase gradually in availability, bats are more frequently seen taking to the sky. In extended cold snaps they can return to a state of torpor.

May/June

Whilst male bats roost in singles or small groups, female bats congregate to form large maternity roosts where they can give birth. New mothers make use of the increased availability of food sources to provide milk for a single pup.

July/August

Mothers suckle baby bats until about 6 weeks of age when the youngsters typically learn how to catch insects and become self-sufficient.

September/October

Bat species in the UK utilise delayed fertilisation so the mating season general takes place over Autumn months. Preparation for winter also takes place through the identification of suitable hibernation sites and building up fat stores.

November/December

All British bats are insectivorous, and it is the lack of flying insects in the winter that forces them to hibernate from about November to March. Bats return to their traditional roosts year after year, but may use different roosts at various times of the year.

Brown Long Eared Bat
Brown Long Eared Bat
Natterer's bat (© John Altringham / Bat Conservation Trust)
Natterer's bat (© John Altringham / Bat Conservation Trust)

Bat Species

To date 9 species of bat (out of 17 species found UK wide) have been recorded in Scotland and we are extremely fortunate to be able to say all have been documented in Dumfries and Galloway. Scottish bat species include:

  • Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus)
  • Bandit Pipistrelle  (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)
  • Brown Long-eared (Plecotus auritus)
  • Whiskered (Myotis mystacinus)
  • Brandt’s (Myotis brandtii)
  • Daubenton’s  (Myotis daubentonii)
  • Natterer’s (Myotis natteri)
  • Noctule (Nyclatus noctula)
  • Leisler’s (Nyctalus leisleri)
Hibernating Brandt's bats (© Anita Glover / Bat Conservation Trust)
Hibernating Brandt's bats (© Anita Glover / Bat Conservation Trust)
Brown long-eared in tree knot (© Hugh Clark / Bat Conservation Trust)
Brown long-eared in tree knot (© Hugh Clark / Bat Conservation Trust)