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What's special about bats?

Bats are highly specialised and remarkable animals with some amazing features. Like us, they are long-lived, intelligent and have complex social lives. Nine or ten species occur regularly in Scotland, but in recent decades the number of bats has declined significantly. Although we don't have much historical information, it's clear that many of our bats are under threat.

Bats have a highly sophisticated echolocation system that allows them to catch tiny insects and avoid obstacles, even in complete darkness. A single bat may consume over 3000 midges in one night!  When they're flying, bats produce a stream of high-pitched squeaks and listen to the echoes to produce a sound picture of their surroundings. These ultrasound calls are too high-pitched for us to hear, but bat enthusiasts use electronic bat-detectors to convert them into audible sounds that can be used to identify the different species in the field.

There are very few insects around in winter, so all British bats hibernate. As the weather gets colder in the autumn, they become torpid, i.e they allow their body temperature to drop close to that of their surroundings, thereby allowing their food reserves to last much longer.

Last updated on Thursday 26th November 2015 at 17:40 PM. Click here to comment on this page