There are 17 species of bats regularly occurring in the UK [9 in ROI], with the number of species likely to be present in an area decreasing in the north and with height above sea level. Although bats are frequently seen in gardens, many species are in decline due in part to a loss of habitat.
You can help bats by providing additional roosting spaces in the form of bat boxes, and by providing extra food by gardening in a way which favours bats. A pond and night-scented flowers are simple ways of making a practical difference to bats, as is minimising light pollution, for instance by having sensor activated security lights rather than ones that are permanently illuminated.
We design and make a wide range of bat boxes, including designs that can be built in to the fabric of a wall for minimal visual impact. Our bat boxes have been developed in collaboration with bat specialists to ensure that the products are optimised to provide suitable roosting or, in some cases, nursing or hibernation spaces.
For externally mounted boxes the ideal location is fairly high (at least 4 to 5 metres above ground) with a clear flight path in and at least some direct sunlight during the day. On buildings a position close to the eaves is often the most effective option.
Most bat species prefer to roost in crevices during the day but some, such as long-eared and horseshoe bats, need space such as a small loft area in which to fly around before dispersing to feed, and prefer to hang from a roof or ridge beam rather than crawl into a narrow niche. The crevice roosting species are the ones best served by bat boxes.
In the UK and Ireland it’s unlikely that bats would hibernate within most types of bat box as they need a stable, cool temperature and very high humidity to overwinter successfully, but our two largest designs, the Causa and Miramare, may be suitable in favoured areas. Bats may also hibernate within the Segovia Build-in Bat Box, particularly if built into a north-facing wall. The Lincolnshire Bat Block was developed in association with the Lincolnshire Bat Group specifically for use as hibernation habitat within suitable spaces such as cellars, tunnels, ice houses and disused air raid shelters.
The Causa and Miramare external boxes and the Segovia Build-in Bat Box may also be suitable for use as maternity and nursery sites in ideal circumstances.
Bats and their roosting sites are fully protected by law. [True for the UK and the Republic of Ireland] Making provision for bats may be a condition of planning consent for new builds or renovations but, as bats are such benign and fascinating creatures, there’s every reason to make some space for them voluntarily.