Garden for bats!
Our bat populations are at risk. With fewer wooded areas, ponds and open grass spaces for them to feed and roost, their habitat is shrinking – exacerbated further by the growth in development and the general intensification of land management. However there are lots of ways that you can help Somerset's Bats - such as making your garden bat-friendly!
What can I do to make my garden more bat-friendly?
Increase the food supply
- Garden features, such as compost heaps and ponds, are particularly good at generating the types of insect that bats like.
- Grow plants with flowers that are likely to attract moths and other night-flying insects. White or pale coloured flowers are more likely to be seen by nocturnal insects
- Be more tolerant of insects in your garden. A few caterpillars will not cause much damage but they will turn into a juicy meal for a bat!
Bats will generally find their own places to shelter but bat boxes can be placed on tree trunks or walls of buildings. Bat boxes can be purchased from garden centres or made from unplaned wood that has not been treated with wood preservatives
Unlike birds, bats seek warm sheltered places in summer. When placing bat boxes, choose locations with a sunny southerly or westerly aspect. Avoid placing boxes above doors or windows, or anywhere that the bats might be disturbed by people or pets.
Be aware of the sorts of places that bats use as shelter and do not disturb them.
Retain old trees with cavities in the trunk, loose bark or splits in the trunk or branches if safety considerations permit
Reduce your light pollution
- Not be an obvious one, but absolutely vital. Artificial light, such as street lights, garden security lighting, or decorative lighting on homes and trees, can have a detrimental effect on bats by affecting the time they roost and come out to hunt.
- By reducing or turning off your garden lighting you can help your neighbourhood bats. Alternatively, if you'd prefer to keep security lighting, consider changing your settings to a dimmer light or fit hoods/cowls over them to limit light pollution.
Avoid using pesticides
Instead, encourage natural predators! You may wish to get rid of pesky garden pests, but these are all needed for a healthy ecosystem. Natural predators such as predatory beetles, centipedes, hoverflies, ladybirds, lacewings and ground beetles, will happily move into compost heaps, log piles and rockeries, and show their appreciation by polishing off your garden pests.
These are some of the Bats you might expect to see - and here's how you can identify them.
Whether you have a fascination or a fear of these nifty night-time navigators it can’t be denied that bats are some of the most fascinating and ecologically indispensable animals on Earth. With over 1200 species of bats in the world, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they account for 20% of all mammal species – only beaten by rodents, and are in fact the only true flying mammal. The smallest is around the size of a bumblebee and the biggest is the size of a small cat and, much like birds, flight has allowed bats to travel and settle in all corners of the Earth and can be found in every continent - though there only a few brave species that choose to spend the Summer north of the Arctic Circle. These fascinating creatures need our help, and by taking these steps to improve our gardens and green spaces, we can create the habitats they need to survive and thrive.
Photos - top Bat©Dale Sutton_2020vision, Noctule Bat©Nick Tomlinson, LeislersBat©Tom Marshall, Brown-eared Bat©Tom Marshall, Daubenton'sBat©Nick Tomlinson, CommonPipistrelle©Amy Lewis