Bats are under threat; let’s save the bats!

are uk bats endangered?
The greater horseshoe bat has disappeared from over half of its former range within the United Kingdom, with about 1% of the population surviving. Image credit: Marie Jullion

Bats. They live across the UK, but like many of the species here, are under threat. These fascinating fluffy flyers are part of the ecosystem and support it by helping the right plants and hunting the right insects. Unfortunately though, without the right environmental support, bats won’t last forever.

What’s so great about bats?

We all know about bats, but many of us don’t really understand them. Many people don’t know that they help pollinate like the bees and flying insects. Bats mostly pollinate the same way that insects do (by sticking their face in and drinking the nectar while getting covered in pollen). However, bats can collect a lot more pollen at once, due to their larger size, and can transport it over a lot longer distances.

Every organism in the world is connected in a giant food web so huge numbers of species will eat from the same bush or the same tree. If bats didn’t eat the right berries and fruits, then they couldn’t deposit the berry bushes’ seeds with the rest of their waste. If none of this happened then the berry bushes would find spreading out a lot harder. These bushes spreading allows them to fulfil their role in the other parts of the ecosystem. The birds who visit your garden, for example, eat the berries once the bushes have grown. So, if the bats didn’t exist to eat the berries, then the birds that visit your garden every morning might stop showing up. Everyone likes to wake up to bird song in the morning.

Who likes mosquitoes? No? I didn’t think any of you did. You can find a lot of bats near water because the bats often see mosquitoes as a nice dinnertime snack. The bats will snatch them out of the sky after tracking them down with their echolocation hunting. Nice not to have to sleep on your guard, isn’t it?

Why are bats endangered?

The same thing that destroys the rest of our wildlife is getting to the bats. Habitat destruction. It’s destroying much of the UK’s natural wildlife. 41% of the species that live here have declined in population since the 1970s. One of our batty friends, the great mouse eared bat, was declared extinct in 1990 and many more bats might suffer the same fate due to loss of their habitats. Because of land development and conversion of bat territory for human use, lots of our wildlife, including our beloved bats, are in serious danger. Bats may be legally protected, but we need to help them more. Let’s make sure we treasure any good areas for wildlife.


What can you do to help bats?

Helping bats is not that hard. For example, put up a bat box. If you live in a good area for bats, you’re bound to see a few making themselves at home in the boxes just under your gutters. You don’t need to feel we are the only bat lovers out there. There are organisations, like the Bat Conservation Trust, who also help to keep our mammals of the sky going until humanity can fully replenish the ecosystems.

There is even special gardening that you can do to attract the bats to your bat box. There are a lot of night scented plants that we can all grow in Surrey such as wisteria, petunia and star jasmine. Night scented plants attract insects that bats will eat. A lot of gardens have these so they shouldn’t be hard to come by and if you already have some, great. You can also build a pond to attract some of the insects that live around the water. Don’t worry about insects annoying you; the bats will eat them.

The Bat Conservation Trust has lots more information on bats and ideas for supporting them. Let’s keep our favourite aerial echolocators alive in our night skies.



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