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 Sunday, 22 December, 2002, 16:15 GMT
Rare bat found at reserve
A more common pipistrelle bat (Image: Hugh Clark/BCT)
Only a handful of species are common in the UK
Rare barbastelle bats - known for their "pug faces" - have been found at a nature reserve in Dorset.

Five of the bats were found at the Dorset Wildlife Trust's reserve at Piddles Wood reserve near Sturminster Newton.

Among the rarer of the bat species in the UK, there are only four breeding colonies of British barbastelles.

Confined mainly to the South, there are only sporadic sightings of the species, with declining habitat a problem.

Vandalism threat

The sighting of the five bats in Dorset during an English Nature survey will be of interest to conservationists.

Barbastelles are vulnerable to the increasing scarcity of suitable woodland, which leaves them without suitable feeding habitats and hollow trees for roosting.

The bats also fall victim to pesticides, particularly those used to treat trees destined for timber, as well as accidental disturbance and vandalism of their favoured hibernating locations in caves and tunnels.

The barbastelles are one of the most distinctive UK species of bat, with blackish fur on the back and the tips of the hairs often pale cream or yellow, giving a frosted appearance.

The ears are black, short and broad and joined across the forehead and with its rather squat face this gives it a very distinctive appearance.

Bat conservationists made an important discovery earlier in the year when they chanced upon a young male greater mouse-eared bat, a species thought extinct in the UK.


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See also:

18 Dec 02 | Science/Nature
25 Nov 02 | Scotland
11 Nov 02 | England
10 Oct 02 | England
09 Aug 02 | Science/Nature
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