Bats have gained a bit of a bad reputation, their depiction in mainstream media is usually that of a blood-sucking vampire or a spooky Halloween decoration.
It may surprise you to hear that not all cultures think of bats in this way. In China bats are a symbol of happiness and joy – 5 bats together represent the 5 blessings of long life, health, wealth, love of virtue and a peaceful death.
Despite their reputation, bats in the UK only eat insects, so they’re good to have around to get rid of those pesky mosquitos. They can even act as natural pest management for farmers, reducing the need for pesticides.
Where do they live?
Bats have adapted to live in lots of different environments, while most live in caves and trees, many have also evolved to live in dwellings. Bats live in roosts (rather than nests), where they sleep, raise their young and hibernate. Bats often move roosts during different times of year to suit their needs.
Bats and bat roosts are protected under UK law, so if you think you have a bat roost in your home or want to do some building work you may need to get a survey completed, and advice on how to complete the works without harming the bats present.
If you find a bat in your room or living space or on the ground when you’re out and about in the daytime, the bat may need some help, scroll to the bottom of the page for advice.
The Status of Bats of South Yorkshire
Identifying the status of bats is difficult. Bat roosts are not always easy to locate, bats are active at unsociable times, and at times when light levels make observing them harder.
This is made even more difficult because it isn’t always easy to identify the exact species, even with specialist bat detecting equipment.
Of the species known to currently or historically have been present in the county, eight are known to breed and hibernate in South Yorkshire. These are shown in the table below (correct as of January 2019).
As we increase our knowledge of bats in the area this information may change and we welcome contributions – information on how to submit a bat record can be found here.
The relative status of South Yorkshire’s bat populations has been assessed, with the current status of each species presented in the table below. The rationale for these assessments is discussed in detail within an article entitled 'South Yorkshire Bat Status', published in Northern Bats Volume 4. The article can be accessed by clicking here.
Additional information on the status of South Yorkshire’s bats, including the data sources used to make the above assessments, will be published shortly.
*A single record of a serotine was reliably identified within the county in 1977. It was reported in The Naturalist.
Bats and the Law
In the UK all bats are protected by law
It is illegal to:
• Intentionally kill, injure or deliberately capture a bat.
• Damage, destroy or obstruct any place a bat uses for shelter. All bat roosts are protected whether bats are present or not.
• Possess/sell/exchange or facilitate the sale of a bat, whether living or dead (this includes anything derived from a bat).
• Set or use traps/articles capable of catching, injuring or killing a bat – including poison or sticky traps intended for animals other than bats.
• Make a false statement to obtain a license for bat work.
Committing any of these crimes can result in a 6-month prison sentence or an unlimited fine
If you plan on carrying out commercial building work, or forestry and suspect there are bats in the dwelling or nearby, please contact us and request a record.
It is not illegal to take in a disabled bat, for the sole purpose of tending to it and releasing it when it is no longer disabled – as long as the person can show that it was not disabled unlawfully by them.
If you find an injured or grounded bat scroll down to find out what to do.
Need Help With a Bat?
What to do if you find a bat in your home
Bats if you have found a bat in a living space in your home there are a number of things you can do;
If the bat isn’t flying, you could try to contain it using a cardboard box with air holes in it. Like with a spider, a cardboard box can be placed over the bat and a piece of card slid gently underneath.
Make sure you ALWAYS wear gloves when handling bats.
After containing the bat;
Putting a clean cloth, or tea towel in the box will give the bat somewhere to hide.
When the bat is contained, place a small amount of water in something like a milk bottle cap and put it in the box.
Keep the box indoors, somewhere quiet and at room temperature, out of direct sunlight.
Call the bat helpline on 0345 1300 228 for further advice.
If it is a warm evening - You could try releasing the bat in the evening at dusk by placing the box on its side on a wall or similar (at head height) and watch to see if it is able to fly off. If the bat is active and warm but hasn't flown off in about half an hour or 40 mins, the bat may need veterinary attention.
You should not release the bat until it has been declared fit and well by a bat advisor, and never release a bat in the daytime.
If the bat is flying DO NOT try to catch it, you will likely injure the bat or it may even try to bite you in self-defense.
- Close the door to the room and open the windows to the outside as wide as possible.
- Dim the lights and the bat should try to find its way out.
A healthy bat will want to be out of reach and out of the light.
An injured bat will struggle to hide properly. In which case you should call the bat helpline.
If it is flying in daylight
Wait until the bat lands
Contain the bat following the advice given above.
Release the bat at dusk.