Daubenton's bat Myotis daubentoni

Daubenton's bat - click to enlargeDaubenton's bat is relatively common in Northern Ireland and is more usually seen foraging over water where it skims the surface like a small hovercraft gleaning insects of the water surface. They prefer still waters and leave the roost to forage after sunset. Daubenton's bat, a medium-sized Irish species, is dark brown on top and paler underneath. They are more commonly found roosting in bridges, stone walls and tree holes. In winter they hibernate.

SPECIES DESCRIPTION: The upper parts of Daubenton's bats are medium to dark brown and the underside is pale grey. Young bats tend to be paler for the first 12 months and can be recognised by a dark spot on the chin. The ears are quite short, rounded and dark and the face is pinkish. The foot is over half the length of the tibia. Daubenton's bats weigh about 9g in summer, although just before hibernation this may increase to as much as 15kg. The body length ranges from 45-50mm and the forearm is about 35-40mm long. Daubenton's bats usually leave the roost quite late, approximately 30 minutes after dusk. They are fast, agile fliers with a fast wing beat, sometimes even whirring. Daubenton's bats hunt very close to the water between 5 and 25cm from the surface. During flight over water the turns of this bat are very long. In comparison, Natterer's bats in the same situation are much more agile, often 'flipping over' to change direction. Daubenton's bats occasionally roost in houses, but are more commonly found in stone structures such as bridges and walls, and also in tree holes. During hibernation, from October to April, bats may use similar structures and usually roost in large numbers. The mating season is from October to February and mating usually takes place within hibernation sites. During the October period, swarming behaviour, which is related to mating, occurs and large numbers of bats can be observed in caves, tunnels and similar structures. The single young is born at maternity colonies during late June and early July. These pups are weaned after about 5 weeks and are capable of flight after 4 weeks.

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© Jon Russ 2001. Text refereed by Angela Ross & Lynne Rendle.

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