Bats at Bodiam Castle

A brown long-eared bat in flight
A brown long-eared bat National Trust / Bat Conservation Trust / Hugh Clark

Bodiam Castle has one of the most important bat roosts in the south east of England. In 2013, we recorded the earliest ever births of wild baby bats in the UK.

Record-breaking Daubenton's bats

On Monday 19 May 2013 four baby Daubenton’s bats were discovered by licensed bat experts Roger Jones and Sally-Ann Hurrey, in their roost in the gatehouse of the castle. It was estimated from their size that they were already several days old, putting the date of birth for the earliest recorded wild bat born in the UK as early as Friday 16 May.
Bats are regularly born earlier than usual at Bodiam Castle due to the good nature of the site, but this was the first time we'd broken the records not only for the first births of the year but the earliest births ever recorded. The previous earliest babies at Bodiam Castle were born on 30 May 2012. The early births were put down to the warm weather as fertilisation is both delayed and activated by weather and food sources.
A Daubenton's bat
A Daubenton's bat
National Trust / Bat Conservation Trust / Hugh Clark

Largest roost in the south east of England

Our volunteers who count the colony think it is the biggest Daubenton’s bat roost in the south east. Numbers vary year to year, but on average there are over 200 Daubenton’s bats, with 321 recorded in 2012. The roost is also used by another bat species in the Myotis family, the Natterer’s bat, with up to 100 of these counted in the past.
A Natterer's bat
A Natterer's bat resting on stonework
National Trust / Bat Conservation Trust / Hugh Clark

Our bat roost residents

Karen Hammond, our Volunteer Manager and registered bat carer at Bodiam Castle takes great pride in our bat colony and ensures that it's a safe environment for the five species we have here in the castle and grounds:
  • Daubenton's
  • Natterer's
  • Brown long-eared
  • Common Pipistrelle
  • Soprano Pipistrelle
The maternity roost in the castle is away from the public and closely monitored to ensure the bats are not disturbed. However, you can often hear them chattering and sometimes a wandering baby bat does have to be returned home.
The Daubenton’s bats don’t always like sharing the area with the Natterer’s species and have been known to kick them out. But most of the time they all seem to get along just fine, with each species having a colony on either side of a beam.

Bat conservation work

Karen works closely with the Bat Conservation Trust.  She holds a long term bat license registered to Natural England, runs the Hastings Bat Hospital and deals with all bat related issues at Bodiam Castle.
If you find a baby bat, you should contact the Bat Conservation Trust helpline for advice on 0845 1300 228.