UK bat species

A Daubenton's bat © Derek Smith

A Daubenton's bat

Our guide to the species of bat that roost and forage in the UK.

Alcathoe's bat
This bat is very similar to the whiskered and Brandt's bats with which it has probably been confused in the past. Since 2009 it has been recorded in Yorkshire and the south of England, including Surrey. It is believed that many of the bats formally identified as 'whiskered/Brandt's' bats that forage over Petworth Park may be this species.

Barbastelles are rare and found in ancient woodland in the southern half of the UK. Its scientific name, Barbastella barbastellus, refers to diminutive whiskers which, with the ears joined at the base and a pug nose makes the barbastelle so ugly it is almost pretty.

Wingspan: 27cm
Body length: 45mm

Bechstein’s bat
A rare bat, restricted to ancient woodlands in the south of England. Bechstein's bat has the longest ears of any European bat, after the long-eared bat, measuring at about 25mm.

wingspan: 28cm
body length: 45mm

Brown long-eared bat
A woodland bat that also roosts in large roof voids and forages in woodland, gardens and orchards. The brown long-eared bat unusually sometimes hibernates in summer roosts, as well as through the winter months. Its ears are about 28mm long and are so fine tuned they can navigate them to food including the tiniest of insects. They enjoy feeding on yellow underwing moths. The wings of these moths are often found on the floor below a roost.

Wingspan: 25cm
Body length: 45mm

Daubenton’s bat
Associated with water sites, often roosting in trees. Also known as the water bat, Daubenton’s bat flies low over water feeding on insects. Its large feet distinguish it from other bats, such as the whiskered bat.

Wingspan: 25cm
Body length: 45mm

Greater mouse-eared bat
Britain's biggest bat, there is only one British site known (near the south coast) for the greater mouse-eared bat, on the edge of its range in Europe. On mainland Europe the greater mouse-eared bat is common in areas and known to travel over a 100 miles from summer to winter haunts.

Wingspan     40cm
Body length     70mm

Grey long-eared bat
The grey long-eared bat is rarely found and is restricted to England, south of the Thames. They differ from the more common brown long-eared bat as they have darker fur which is grey at its base.
Wingspan: 25cm
Body length: 45mm

Horseshoe bats
Restricted to the south-west of England and Wales, both lesser and greater horseshoes have declined in number and their ranges contracted. They are closely linked to woodlands and cattle-grazed pastures, especially in steep-sided valleys.

In summer they roost in old roof spaces with easy access. In winter, they use mainly underground sites such as stone mines and caves. Many are in Special Areas of Conservation.

Greater horseshoe bat wingspan: 34cm
Body length: 64mm
Lesser horseshoe bat wingspan: 25cm
Body length: 40mm

Leisler’s bat
Common in Ireland, this high flying bat roosts in buildings as well as being a tree dweller.
Wingspan: 30cm
Body length: 64mm

Natterer’s bat
A parkland and woodland species, often roosting in tree hollows, old timbers of barns, old house roofs and churches. Natterer's bat is distinguished by its white belly.

Wingspan: 28cm
Body length: 45mm

This tree roosting species forages widely, especially high over water. It competes with starlings for tree holes to live in. The Noctule is one of Britain's largest bats, and a strong flyer. It often emerges before dark in the summer to catch insects, mixing with swifts and swallows.

Wingspan: 36cm
Body length: 75mm

There are three species (two relatively common) of Britain's smallest bat, the pipistrelle. They roost commonly in modern houses, but are found roosting and foraging everywhere. Also our commonest bat species, pipistrelles live in large colonies of 1000 or more.

Wingspan: 22cm
Body length: 35mm

Restricted to the southern half of England and South Wales, this bat roosts in older houses, foraging over pasture and gardens. The serotine returns to the same roost year after year, so the floors of the roof spaces they inhabit become carpeted with their black droppings.
Wingspan: 36cm
Body length: 64mm

Whiskered and Brandt’s bat
Often found in woodland and around waterside, roosting in trees, bat boxes and buildings. These two species are remarkably alike. Whiskered bats do not live up to their name, only having more fur around their eyes and muzzle than other bats. A small bat, they are known in Europe to travel long distances as far as 1,200 miles, although they don't move long distances in this country.

Wingspan: 24cm
body length: 40mm