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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 19:11 GMT
Rare bat is blown into county
Hobbit the European free-tailed bat
Hobbit the European free-tailed bat
A bat which has not been seen in the UK for nearly 20 years has turned up in Cornwall.

The European free-tailed bat normally makes its home in the Southern Mediterranean or Africa.

But one bat is thought to have been blown hundreds of miles off course all the way to Cornwall by strong winds.

He is now recuperating at the Cornwall Bat Hospital in Penzance after his ordeal.

Hobbit's wing
Hobbit had holes in his wings, suggesting a long journey
The free-tailed bat is so called because of a tail which sticks out which is thought to be used for balance. The bat has not been seen in the UK for 17 years.

The bat, who has been named Hobbit, nearly came to grief in a Cornish graveyard, but was rescued by a walker with his dog.

Brian Roberts said: "I was walking and what looked like a great big leaf came towards me. My dog sniffed it and I saw it was a bat. It had one wing extended and looked very disorientated."

Hobbit's body condition was poor. Holes in his wings suggested he had just undergone a long journey.

Permanent guest

Jenny Little of the Cornwall Bat Hospital said: "They are known to migrate and this is a good time of year to do it.

"They also fly at very high altitudes and airline pilots occasionally see them."

He was showing signs of malnutrition when discovered but has since been eating well.

Most of the bats at the hospital are eventually released. But Hobbit will not because no one knows exactly where he comes from.

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