A colony of Lesser Horseshoe bats has been discovered in the Cotswolds
A colony of rare lesser horseshoe bats has been discovered in the Cotswolds.
The colony of about 50 bats has been identified in a derelict building near to Chedworth.
The exact location is being kept secret.
The Lesser Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros), which gets its name from its distinctive horseshoe-shaped nose, was once found throughout southern England and Wales.
Now only about 14,000 remain, although the population has increased slightly in recent years.
The species' overall decline has been attributed to farming practices, disturbance and loss of roosts.
Bat expert Dr Roger Ransome, who has been studying Horseshoe bats at Woodchester Mansion near Stroud for more than 50 years, said the discovery of the previously unknown colony is significant, but not too surprising:
"It's an important discovery for Gloucestershire but you have to bear in mind that the county has colonies of 500 or 600, or even 700 at Woodchester in the summer."
Lesser Horseshoes are one of only two species of horseshoe bat found in Britain: the greater horseshoe bat is larger (5.7 - 7.1cm in length) whereas the lesser horseshoe bat is between 3.5 and 4.5cm.
Both species have brown-grey, leaf-shaped ears and have good eye-sight despite being most active at night.