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Page last updated at 12:54 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 13:54 UK
Rare bat spotted near Bristol
Greater horseshoe bat
The maximum age recorded in Europe for a greater horseshoe bat is 30 years

Experts are celebrating the discovery of a rare bat in a purpose-built cave in a nature reserve near Bristol.

It is thought that there are only 5000 greater horseshoe bats left in the whole country.

The artificial cave - or hibernaculum - was designed by Craig Stenson at Avon Wildlife Trust's Weston Big Wood nature reserve near Portishead.

"We couldn't believe it at first. It's almost certainly a lone male looking for somewhere safe," said Craig.

Craig added: "We built the artificial cave two years ago because we know bat species such as greater horseshoe bats are in the area and we wanted to see if we could provide a place for them to roost to help the local population.

"They're very territorial and need to get their own space sorted before going out on the tiles to mate.

"The lucky female might well share the roost with him during winter hibernation, after which she'll go off to a maternity roost.

"But bats are often faithful and this cave could become a well-established mating roost!"

The hibernaculum was designed by the Trust's Ecological Consultancy to provide the correct humidity and temperatures for successful long-term roosting, including hibernation.

In January 2000 Craig was part of a small team that discovered Boris who, at 28, was the second-oldest recorded greater horseshoe bat in the world.

Boris was discovered in a disused stone mine at another Avon Wildlife Trust nature reserve, Brown's Folly outside Bath.

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