The vicar of a Norfolk church has complained bats which are regularly "showering" the congregation in urine and faeces "have more rights than the worshipping community do", after being told the animals are a protected species and will not be removed from the church.
Rev Stephen Thorp said their “off-putting” toilet habits have made engaged couples look elsewhere for weddings and could damage the furnishing at St Andrew's Church in Holme Hale.
The church is home to a 300-strong colony of bats, thought to be one of the biggest in England.
Mr Thorp said the "pungent" faeces and urine produced by the bats in the church roof "showers down on anybody inside".
"This does an awful lot of damage and in the breeding season it's also possible for pubescent bats to fall from the roof onto the floor," he told the BBC.
Defra-funded Bristol researchers have now been working on a solution to deter the colony, such as using artificial lights and ultrasound technology to create no-fly zones within the Grade I listed building.
"We don't want to kill or harm the bats in anyway, but we do think it's fundamentally wrong that human beings and bats should be forced to share the same indoor dwelling space," Mr Thorp said.
"It's one of those cases where the bats seem to have more rights that the worshipping community.”