The 16 Varieties of British Bats

(To find out more about each species, click on it's name)

Bat Species
Pipistrelle Bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) The pipistrelle is Britain's most common species and is found throughout the UK Very common
Common Long-Eared Bat (Plecotus auritus) Second most common species in Britain and is found throughout the UK, Very common
Noctule ( Nyctalus noctula) It is still a relatively common species in much of England, Wales and south-west Scotland, but has become scarce in some areas of intensive agriculture. The noctule is absent from Ireland. Common
Leisler's ( Nyctalus leisleri) Common in Ireland but restricted to a central band in the southern parts of England. Rare
Serotine ( Eptesicus serotinus) South of England and south Wales only. Common

Barbastelle(Barbastella barbastellus)

Mid to southern England and in Wales. Rare
Natterer's ( Myotis nattereri) Widespread throughout the UK. Common
Mouse-eared (Myotis myotis) Few sightings in Dorset & Sussex only. Thought to be extinct in UK.
Bechstein's ( Myotis bechsteinii) Few sightings in Dorset. Very rare
Whiskered (Myotis mystacinus ) Widespread throughout the UK. Common
Daubenton's Widespread throughout the UK. Common
Greater horseshoe Local to south- west England and South Wales. Rare
Lesser Horseshoe (Rhinolophus hipposideros)   Very Rare
Brandt's (Myotis brandtii)    
Nathusius's Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii)    
Grey Long-Eared Bat (Plecotus austriacus) Very few sightings in south of England. Very Rare


Pipistrelle Bat Pipistrellus pipistrellus

The tiny Pipistrelle is Britain's smallest bat and is also the most abundant and widespread all over Britain. They congregate in large colonies, often in buildings such as churches, and can be heard squeaking before they all stream out, 15 - 30 minutes before dusk to forage for insects.

Favourite summer places for roosting can be in small places behind roof tiles or fascia boards on houses.

They hibernate from late November to March in roofs of buildings or trees.


Noctule Nyctalus noctula

The Noctule is is very common in most parts of England and Wales, especially in the Midlands and south-eastern counties. They are very powerful and expert flyers and usually fly higher than other species and are often seen swooping after insects just before dusk, in amongst Swifts and Martins.

They are mostly trees dwellers, roosting in holes in parks and woodlands.


Leisler's Nyctalus leisleri
This is also known as the lesser noctule bat and is very similar to the noctule. It is also a high flying bat. The distribution is different from the Noctule though. It is found in Ireland, where there are no Noctule bats but is only found in the more southern parts of England. It is a tree dweller that hibernates from October to March.


Serotine Eptesicus serotinus
This large bat is a strong flyer but is restricted to a localised area in the south and east of England. They like to raise their young in the attics of old houses and return to the same roosts year after year.


Common Long-Eared Bat Plecotus auritus
This is mainly a woodland bat that is found all over the UK. It has huge ears that allow it to not only pick out flying insects but to distinguish between them. It is extremely maneuverable and can weave in amongst the branches of trees, and even hover, to catch insects. Although their summer roosts are in trees , they hibernate in caves or old mine shafts from November to March.


Barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus
This bat has a strange pug-like face and short, broad ears that meet between the eyes. They are found in open woodland, especially river valleys, where they fly low over the water in search of insects. In extremely cold winters, they have been found hibernating in caves with other species of bat.


Natterer's Myotis nattereri

This bat is easily recognised by its white undersides and down-pointing tail. It is a slow flying bat, usually seen at rooftop height just before dusk.

They are seen throughout most of the UK. In summer they roost in hollow trees or roof spaces of houses. They hibernator in winter in caves from December to March.


Mouse-eared Myotis myotis
This large bat may now be extinct in the UK. The few reported sightings, in Dorset and Sussex, are thought to be of bats from the continent, where they are fairly common. They prefer open woodland in the summer and hibernate in caves during the winter.


Bechstein's Myotis bechsteinii
This bat is one of Britain's rarest mammals, only a few dozen sightings have ever been made, these were in Dorset, where it hibernates in old limestone mines.


Whiskered Myotis mystacinus
Often seen around buildings, hedges and woodland. A slow flying bat that flutters rather than flies. They hibernate in cool places from late autumn.


Daubenton's Myotis daubentonii

Although it does fly higher, this bat is usually seen flying very low over water at night. It feeds mainly on insects but has been known to catch small fish.

It is possible that it could be a territorial bat as it seems to keep to the same flight patterns most of the time. Nursery roosts tend to be in buildings, but they usually roost solitarily in caves during hibernation.


Greater horseshoe Rhinolophus ferrumequinum
This rare bat is confined to sightings in the south- west England and South Wales. It is one of the largest of the UK bats. The summer roosts are in large buildings such as barns and churches. They hibernate from late September to mid-May in caves and mines.


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Last updated 9 March, 2002
© copyright 1999, P. A. Owen