By Sophie Evans, Graduate Ecologist at RSK Biocensus
Since 1997, #InternationalBatNight has taken place every year on the last full weekend of August. More than 30 countries celebrate by hosting events for people to see and learn about bats.
This year, more than ever, the Bat Conservation Trust needs people to help raise awareness of bats and their importance in our communities. There has recently been lots of misinformation and misunderstanding regarding bats and COVID-19, which has unnecessarily increased the fear of bats and undermined their protection. Bats did not cause the pandemic, and you cannot catch the coronavirus from our UK bats. For more information on this, you can listen to the BatChat podcast on Spotify.
One quarter of UK mammals are bats! Residing here are 18 species, ranging from the smallest, the pipistrelle, which is only 5 cm long with a wingspan of up to 23 cm, to the noctule, which has a wingspan of up to 40 cm. All UK bats are insectivores and play an important role in keeping insect numbers in check.
The main aims of International Bat Night are to educate people on bats and their ecology, raise awareness of bats and the roles they play within ecosystems, and to fundraise for bat conservation.
There are many things you can do to get involved in International Bat Night. Just a few suggestions are…
- Join a bat walk in your local area (socially distanced, of course).
- Make a bat box to attach to your house.
- Do some wildlife gardening to encourage insect prey for bats.
More ideas are available on the Bat Conservation Trust website.