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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Family living with colony of bats
Bat colony
The pipistrelle bats have grown to a colony of about 2,000
An Aberdeenshire family have revealed what it is like sharing their home with a colony of 2,000 pipistrelle bats.

The bats have established themselves in the main roof space of a house in Rothiemay, lived in by the Bestwicks.

All species of bats are protected because of falling numbers, making it a crime to kill or disturb them unless they get into living areas.

The Bestwicks say the smell can become bad, but that they have just learned to live with the colony.

Charles Bestwick said the bats were in the house when the family moved in seven years ago.

Of course the smell comes in and the droppings as well, so that's a bit of a problem
Charles Bestwick

He said: "Although the bats are very much, quite literally, part of the fabric of the house and part of the character of the house, it is a little bit of a problem because we can't open the windows in the evening to let some air in.

"Particularly in the summer, the bats will come in and of course the smell comes in and the droppings as well, so that's a bit of a problem."

Mr Bestwick said he had no problem with the bats being protected but that he would like to see more leeway for people in his position.

Learning process

He said: "When you have people like ourselves, who are quite willing to live with the bats, we would like a far more equitable system where we can work and live our life normally with the bats."

He said he would continue talks with Scottish Natural Heritage on the way forward.

Bat worker Mick Canham said: "Most people, when they learn a bit more about bats, and understand that they don't chew up wiring or carry nesting material into the roof space, they're quite happy to live with their bats."

We had a problem when they got into the water supply
Lara Bestwick

Pipistrelles do not carry rabies, so pose no major health risk, but can prove a significant nuisance.

Charles' wife Lara said there were times when they could not be avoided.

She said: "We laid a hard patio so we could sweep the droppings up regularly, but you need to do it every couple of days to keep it clean.

"When I was pregnant as well we had a problem when they got into the water supply and one day we discovered there were 23 bats in our water tank, which was why the water wasn't tasting very nice."

The Bestwicks' five-year-old daughter Rebecca said she liked the way the bats squeaked and could fly through small holes.

But she said: "Once my friend saw two on the bed and in the middle of the night she once saw a bat on the sink."

Listen to life in the Bestwicks' home

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