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We're Batty about Bats

Posted on November 15, 2017

Bats & Trees. All bats in the UK feed on insects, and because trees can support a large variety and abundance of insects they are important for foraging bats. Mature native trees support the greatest abundance of insects with veteran or ancient trees being of particular value.

Bats also use linear features (such as tree lines and hedgerows) as commuting routes between their roosting location and foraging areas.

Bats live within sheltered locations known as roosts and all UK species have been found to utilise natural features within trees to roost. Mature and veteran trees may support these types of features, but any tree could be used if there is a suitable opportunity.

Bats have different roosting requirements at different times of year and this will determine the roost feature used. In the summer for example, breeding females need warmer conditions when raising their young. In winter when cool and stable temperatures are required for hibernation, bats may move into deeper features. The features used may also change within the same season, for example bats may move to a damp rot hole in particularly hot summer spells to avoid any risk of dehydration.

Loss of trees, due to a variety of reasons including natural processes (such as weather) and human intervention (such as tree surgery or tree clearance for development) is a major threat for bats. Understanding the requirements of bats can help to identify those trees with ‘bat potential’ and ways in which tree management can aid bat conservation and ensure the legislation protecting bats and their roosts is adhered to. Here at Teign Trees we love bats, we are members of the ‘Bat Conservation Trust’ and Paul one of our directors is ‘Bats in Arboriculture’ certificated.

Helping out bats

Though bat boxes cannot replace the range of natural cavities and features that trees provide, they can create additional roosting opportunities for a variety of species. Bat boxes can be fitted on trees and can be purchased prebuilt, or created from D.I.Y designs. We at Teign Trees can give advice on what type of planting will encourage bats and what to do if you are lucky enough to be chosen by bats and how they can be installed depending on the surrounding environmental conditions and bat populations. Just give us a call on 01626 773499 or email and arrange for someone to come out and take a look

Shelter is not the only resource that bats require however. Food and water supplies are also vital and though trees help to provide these in abundance, a helping hand can further enhance suitable habitat.

Bats can utilise many tree features including trunk hollows, knot holes, splits/cracks in branches and sheltered areas created by flaking bark. You may wish to have an initial look for these characteristics to establish a tree’s ‘bat potential’ as features can sometimes be identified from ground level during the day, with the aid of close focusing binoculars or getting one of our ‘Bats in Arboriculture’ certified Teign Trees Crew to come out and have a look for you just give us a quick call on 01626 773499.

Here are a few tips to make your place more bat friendly!

• Plant night-scented flowers

• Build a pond

• Let your garden go a little wild

• Put up a bat box

• Create linear features ie: hedgerows/treelines

• Reduce or remove artificial lighting

• Keep cats indoors at night

Image Peter Cripps | Adobe Stock