How the bat flap will help save endangered species

The National Trust - normally associated with the preservation of aristocratic country houses - has successfully constructed a purpose-built home for one of Britain's rarest bats.

The new roost, nicknamed the "bat flap", has been specially designed for the unusual needs of the lesser horseshoe bat which unlike ordinary bats has to be able to fly straight into its sleeping quarters rather than crawling into bed through a crevice.

In an effort to revive the fortunes of the horseshoe bat, experts have worked closely with the trust to build a summer roost with a flap on one of the gable ends of Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire.

The bat flap allows the horseshoe bats to fly straight into the roosting area inside the roof of the house without first having to land on the walls - the usual way that bats enter their roosts. "It works very much like a cat flap but it's the size of a breeze-block and covered at the sides to create a tunnel-like entrance," said Mike Collins, a trust spokesman.

After more than two years of trying to entice horseshoe bats into the new lodgings, the National Trust has at last succeeded with the establishment of a small summer colony at Chedworth. David Bullock, head of nature conservation at the National Trust, said the project was vital because the horseshoe bat has declined in numbers in recent years with the loss of suitable habitats and roosting sites.

"Without this sort of initiative the numbers of lesser horseshoe bats will continue to decline as they struggle to find suitable roosts and habitats," Mr Bullock said. "Bats are one of the key species for the National Trust and we are working to make sure that our buildings can effectively support colonies of them and other species throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.".

The lesser horseshoe bat can live more than 20 years and usually lives in summer colonies of between 30 and 70 individuals. They mate between September and November and give birth to one offspring in the following mid-summer.

During winter they live in caves, mines and tunnels and at the end of hibernation they move to roofs of larger houses and stable blocks - but they need to fly directly into the roosting area.

Horseshoe bats were once found throughout southern England and Wales but the entire population of about 14,000 individuals is now confined to the South-west, with Gloucestershire at the heart of its current range.

Mr Collins said the trust had been working to create environments that allowed horseshoe bats to live and breed undisturbed. They live on flies, moths and spiders and need joined-up hedgerows and lines of trees to create feeding habitats.

The Chedworth project is part of a wider range of initiatives which are designed to help and encourage bats to breed. Chedworth already has established colonies of more familiar bats such as pipstrelle and whiskered bats.

Chedworth Roman Villa in the Cotswold countryside is the oldest stately home run by the National Trust, dating from the 4th century AD. The trust organises special "bat walks" in the grounds of the house during summer evenings.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleComedian launches stinging attack on PM
Life and Style
The collection displayed Versace’s softer side, with models wearing flowers and chiffon dresses in unusual colourings
fashionVersace haute couture review
Arts and Entertainment
'The Leaf'
artYes, it's a leaf, but a potentially very expensive one
News
Yoko Ono at the Royal Festival Hall for Double Fantasy Live
people'I wont let him destroy memory of John Lennon or The Beatles'
News
Could Greece leave the EU?
news
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'