Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 12:51 UK

Aim to make town 'bat friendly'

Pipistrelle bat
Organisers of the count believe bats are helpful to humans

Volunteers are needed to count the number of bats living in Perth and help improve the image of the creatures.

A large bat survey is taking place in the town between May and August to discover how many there are and where they like to hang out.

Those taking part could be handed bat detectors to help them hear the sound of the animals flying and feeding.

As well as helping with conservation, it is hoped the survey will dispel the myth that bats are scary creatures.

Senior countryside ranger Niall Lobley said they know there are bats in Perth, but they do not know where they are and what they are doing.

"We know there are some species which are quite comfortable living alongside humans and bats such as the pipistrelle, which is the most common bat, are quite common in towns and urban areas," he said.

"There are certain bats which are reasonably common on some of the Perth waters. There's a Daubenton's bat which is known as the water bat, which is found on some of the water bodies in and around Perth, such as the Tay and up and down the lade."

A pipistrelle will eat 3,000 midges in an evening, so the more bats we have the less midges
Niall Lobley
Countryside ranger

Volunteers can take part in a simple survey, which involves detailing the bats seen in places like the back garden or when walking the dog.

There is also a bat detector survey, which involves each volunteer monitoring a square kilometre of the town with a device which is able to pick up the echo bats use to manoeuvre and track down prey.

Mr Lobley said: "That tells us what species of bat is flying and, for people who are quite clued up on it, it can actually tell you what they are doing.

"So you can listen to see when they are feeding, or you can listen to see when they are just talking to each other, or when they are flying along a hedgerow."

Perth and Kinross Council, the Bat Conservation Trust and Perth Bat Group are involved in running the survey.

Mr Lobley said they wanted to change perceptions about the creatures and make Perth more "bat friendly".

"The biggest myth is that bats are scary," he said.

"Bats aren't scary, they're extremely cute creatures, they're furry, they're warm-blooded, they're mammals so they give birth to live young like humans and they're our friends.

"A pipistrelle will eat 3,000 midges in an evening, so the more bats we have, the less midges.

"They don't suck blood - at least none of the bats that live in the UK are bloodsucking - so there's no vampire mystery about the bats that live in Scotland."

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