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Bats in buildings

Bat Conservation Trust Bats and Buildings Specialist Support Series Bats use buildings increasingly for roosting, as natural roosting places in tree holes and caves
become more scarce or disturbed. All buildings, in particular the walls, eaves and roofs, are
potential roost sites. Anyone working regularly in these areas, such as surveyors, architects,
plumbers, roofers, pest technicians, double glazing installators and insulators, should be aware
of signs to look for.
The information provided here is believed to be correct. However, no responsibility can be accepted by the Bat Conservation Trust or any of its partners or officers for any
consequence of errors or omissions, nor any responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of this information and no claims for
compensation for damage or negligence will be accepted.
Bats and the law
Where works affect other buildings or structures, eg tree or bridge works/maintenance, any demolition (including houses), All 17 species of bat in the UK are protected by law. This building maintenance, barn conversions, works to churches
differs slightly from country to country, but in summary etc, then the appropriate Government department (Defra,
it is illegal to:
Welsh Assembly, Scottish Executive, Environment & Heritage Service Northern Ireland) must be informed and a Habitats kill, injure or disturb bats
Regulations Licence application submitted to and approved by obstruct access to bat roosts
them before any work can commence. Procedures for this can damage or disturb bat roosts
be quite lengthy, so bat surveys should be undertaken as early because of the following legislation: as possible in the proceedings. In all cases, a timely survey
by an experienced bat worker can save delays later.
 Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981: England, Scotland and Wales Where do bats roost in buildings?
 Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985: Northern Ireland Different species of bat prefer different places; some creep  Wildlife Act 1990: Isle of Man into tiny spaces, cracks and crevices. Only occasionally do  Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000: they hang free or are easily visible.
England and Wales Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004: Scotland Outside they may roost:  Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC) on the  under weather boarding or hanging tiles Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and  above soffits and behind fascia and barge boarding  between window frame and wall brickwork in gaps behind cladding tiles or wood In this context ‘damage' would include such operations  between underfelt and boards or tiles
as treatment with chemicals found in wood preservatives.  inside cavity walls
‘Disturbance' includes any work in or affecting a bat
Inside roof spaces they may roost: along the ridge beam Under the law, a roost is any structure or place used by bats  around the gable end for shelter or protection. Because bats tend to re-use the  around the chimney breast same roosts year after year, the roost is protected whether
or not bats are present at the time.
Looking for the evidence
In order that legislation is not contravened, any building Bats do not make nests or cause structural damage.
maintenance or other operation that needs to be carried out The most obvious sign of their presence is droppings.
where there are bats or evidence of bats must be notified  Bat droppings consist largely of insect remains and
to the relevant Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation crumble easily between your fingers to a powder of semi- (SNCO) or government department in order that it can advise shiny fragments.
on whether the operation should be carried out and, if so, the  Rodent droppings are smooth and plastic, quickly method to be used and the timing.
becoming hard. They cannot be crumbled.
Where works likely to affect bats and/or roosts are proposed  Bat droppings do not present any known health hazards.
for a house, your SNCO (English Nature, Countryside Council  Droppings may not always be readily visible in a loft.
for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage or Environment &  Large accumulations may reflect use over a number of Heritage Service Northern Ireland) must be informed in order years rather than large numbers of bats at any one time.
to advise on how you should proceed.
Bat droppings are frequently mistaken for mouse droppings,
so do the ‘crumble test'.
When do bats use buildings?
Best practice for working in bat roosts
Bats use buildings at any time, but are most often found in houses between May and August.
 In order to work within the law, seek advice from the appropriate SNCO in any situation  Mother bats have only one baby a year, suckling it for several weeks. The mothers gather in maternity roosts to where an operation may affect bats or their have their babies in summer, and this is the time they are most likely to be seen using buildings.
 If operations have already started when  The bats move away when the young can fly and feed bats or their roosts are discovered, work must themselves, and have usually left by September.
stop and the relevant SNCO must be contacted  Immature individuals, adult males and non-breeding females will occupy a variety of roosts, individually or in small immediately.
groups, at any time of year.
 Disturbance or the use of chemicals at maternity roosts in houses can have a major impact on bat populations gathered from a wide area.
(Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations)
 Bats do roost in houses in winter, usually individually, but are difficult to see.
Northminster House, Peterborough PE1 1UA Which bats use buildings?
Telephone 01733 455000 All our UK species have been recorded in houses, but some very
rarely. Pipistrelles and long-eared bats are the species most Countryside Council for Wales
usually found.
Maes Y Fynnon, Penrhosgarnedd, Bagnor, Gwynedd LL57 2NDTelephone 01248 385500 There are three different species of pipistrelles:
the common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle and Scottish Natural Heritage
the rarer Nathusius' pipistrelle. They sometimes 12 Hope Terrace, Edinburgh EH9 2AS
use houses as maternity roosts, choosing Telephone 0131 447 4784
confined spaces. These are usually on the outside
of buildings, such as under soffits or behind barge boards or Environment and Heritage Service (N. Ireland)
hanging tiles, where the bats can rarely be seen.
Environment Services, Commonwealth House, 35 Castle Street, Belfast BT1 1GU Brown long-eared bat
Telephone 02890 546 558 This species mostly prefers older houses with
large roof spaces. Small clusters may be seen
at junctions of roof timbers or under the ridge. When a Habitats Regulations Licence is required you need
It is the bat most frequently seen inside lofts, to contact your government department. Your SNCO will be
and small numbers may stay longer than other able to advise of its address.
Pest control in a bat roost
The Bat Conservation Trust
The control of pests such as wasps, bees, hornets, cluster flies 15 Cloisters House
and rodents may unintentionally affect bats or their roosts, so 8 Battersea Park Road
care should be taken when controlling pests in an area where bats are, or are known to have been, present.
London SW8 4BG
 Rodenticides should not be placed in an open tray below Bat Helpline 0845 1300 228 roosting bats.
 Insecticides recommended as safer for use near mammals are based on boron, permethrin or cypermethrin. Obtain details from SNCOs.
The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) is the only national  Ask for advice too on the range of fungicides which may be organisation solely devoted to the conservation of used in sites used by bats.
 bats and their habitats in the UK.
Sticky traps should not be used in bat roosts.
BCT produces a wide range of publications and Advice must be sought from your SNCO before any action is
taken in order to keep within the law.
resources covering all aspects of bats and their conservation.
Registered charity number 1012361



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