©Hugh Clark (www.bats.org.uk)

Learn all about bats

While you will find 17 types of bat in the UK, only ten are tough enough to survive in Scotland, including Pipistrelles, Brown Long Eared and Daubenton's

Bats in Scotland

There are  ten species of bat found in Scotland, they are:

  1. Common Pipistrelle, referred to as  45 kHz Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), 
  2. Soprano Pipistrelle also referred to as 55 kHz Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus)
  3. Nathusius' Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii)
  4. Brown Long Eared (Plectus auritus)
  5. Daubenton’s (Myotis daubentonii)
  6. Natterer’s (Myotis nattereri)
  7. Whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus)
  8. Noctule (Nyctalus noctula)
  9. Leisler’s bat (Nyctalus leisleri)
  10. Brandt’s bat (Myotis brandtii)

The most common bats are the Pipistrelles and Brown Long Eared, which commonly use houses to roost in. During the summer the females give birth to their young in maternity roosts often in houses and they spend the summer there. Around September they leave the summer roosts to mate and to look for good winter roosts as the summer ones will be too warm. As bats hibernate during the winter they need a cold place with a steady temperature in order to survive a period when their food source, insects are far less abundant.

Bats are very seasonal in their use of roosts. The important maternity roosts are generally close to good insect habitat, e.g. broad-leaved woodland and water. Adult females gather together in maternity roosts in late May to early June to give birth and rear their single young. The bats usually stay in the maternity roost until early September then move on. The young are on the wing in July and they usually leave the roost last. Outside of the period June to August a large variety of roosts are used, some only for a matter of days.

The table below illustrates how during the year bats use different roost types. It is therefore essential that as many possible roost sites are available for roosting bats.

Seasonal roost types
Species Winter Roost Summer Roost
Brown Long Eared Underground & Trees Old Houses & Trees
Daubenton's Underground Stone Structures & Trees
Pipistrelles Trees, Houses & Underground Houses and Trees
Natterer's Old Buildings Old Buildings, trees, bridges & caves

Bats and the Law

All bat species found in Scotland are classed as European protected species. They receive full protection under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended).

The Act and Regulations include provisions making it illegal to:

  • Kill, injure, catch or keep bats
  • Damage, destroy or obstruct bat roosts
  • Disturb bats whilst they are roosting, for example by entering known roosts or hibernation sites
  • Sell, barter or exchange bats live or dead

It is a legal requirement to consult Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) before you do anything that might affect bats or their roosts. For more information see: SNH protected species bats. This might include:

  • Blocking, filling or installing grilles over old mines or tunnels
  • Building, alteration or maintenance work
  • Getting rid of unwanted bat colonies
  • Removing hollow or dead/dying trees
  • Re-roofing
  • Remedial timber treatment
  • Rewiring or plumbing in roofs
  • Treatment of wasps, bees or cluster flies

Remember that because bats can potentially return to the same roost every year, bat roosts are protected even if there are no bats there all year round.

The law allows you to tend disabled bats, kill seriously injured ones and disturb bats, which are in the living area of a house.

Activities such as catching, ringing or photographing bats, or disturbing them whilst roosting, can be licensed by SNH, provided they are for scientific, educational or conservation purposes.

These laws are not designed to prevent work but to minimise its impact on the long-term survival of bats.

For further details see sections 9 – 11, 16 – 27, and 69 of the WACA 1981.

If Bats are found

If bats are uninjured, allow them to fly out of the way.

If injured or sluggish remove to an empty dark box, only if wearing gloves. Keep box still and cool. Do not give food or drink. Call for assistance.

In all cases where bats are found to occupy trees or buildings, inform Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) immediately.

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