Natterer's bat Myotis nattereri

Natterer's bat - click to enlargeNatterer's bat is relatively rare in Northern Ireland with both roosts and flying bats being only occasionally seen. They are relatively large bats with quite big ears. The fur is light brown on the top and paler on the underside. Natterer's bats leave the roost quite late after sunset and can be found foraging in woodland and over water. They roost in old houses and in cracks and crevices in stone structures. In winter they hibernate.

SPECIES DESCRIPTION: Natterer's bat is quite large and is light brown with a light grey or off-white underside. The wing membranes are mid-brown. The face is noticably pink and the ears light brown or pink. The ears are the longest of the Myotis species and the tragus is long, pointed and sharp. The length of the head and body ranges from 40-49mm in length and the forearm length ranges from 36-42mm. Natterer's bats emerge in late dusk and fly relatively low (1-6m) above ground level with a slow wing beat sometimes whirring. In confined spaces the Natterer's bat is highly manoeuvrable often changing direction very quickly. They are also able to hover for short periods. Natterer's bats generally roost in old houses and churches, in cracks and crevices in stone structures or in the space between the wall and the roof. They may also occasionally roost in tree holes. Natterer's bats are found swarming in mixed sex groups around the entrances to caves and disused mines during August and October which is presumably for the purposes of mating. Hibernation begins in November and December. Fertilisation is delayed, and the young are born in June and July.

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

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