All bats in the UK are protected under EU and UK law, making it an offence to injure an individual, or to disturb or destroy a bat roost.
This species of mammal often finds themselves needing a helping hand, as their populations have been in major decline in the UK. However, for the first time, the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) has stated this year that bat populations are either growing or stable. This is due to the dedication of bat ecologists, bat carers and the public. This help is vital to the preservation of bat species, not just in the UK, but worldwide.
There are bat carers all over the UK dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wild bats. The BCT holds a database with all the registered bat carers in the UK. The BCT may give out details of those carers when an injured bat is found by a member of the public.
It is often the public that comes across grounded, injured or distressed bats.
So, what do you do if you find a bat in your house, or on the floor, or on a outside on a wall in broad daylight?
- Find a small container with a lid, ideally a shoebox. Put airholes in the box (make sure all the holes are tiny – pipistrelle bats can escape through a hole the size of your little finger!). Put a t-shirt or tea-towel inside the box.
- Find a glove, or a sock, to gently pick the bat up in. Rabies is not a major threat in the UK; however, it is important to be cautious. Read our blog on rabies here. DO NOT pick the bat up with your bare hands because they may bite!
- Put the bat inside the box, with a milk lid filled with water. You do not need to feed the bat, the bat carer will do this.
- Keep out of the way of small children and pets (especially cats) and put the box somewhere out of direct sunlight.
- Ring the Bat Helpline: The Bat Conservation Trust on 0345 130 0228, or your local area group, such as Bristol Bat Rescue on 0792 155 3784. Or to get in contact with an out-of-hours person, go to the BCT website.
Adult Bats and Pups
Pups are born during the summer months – if the bat has no fur, then it is more than likely a very young pup. Expert help will be needed!
Please be aware
If you cannot get help within 24 hours, or if it requires urgent medical attention, then take the bat to the local vet. Inform the vet that they can obtain further information from The Bat Conservation Trust.
What to do if you find a bat during a development?
The protocol for finding a bat on a development site is slightly different to that described above.
All builders, contractors and unlicensed personnel are strictly forbidden to handle, hurt or kill bats – to do so would be to break the law.
- Halt works immediately
- Cover the bat carefully over again
- Consult with the relevant statutory nature conservation organisation (such as Natural Resources Wales, or Natural England) and consult with the bat ecologist
- Attain a European Protected Species derogation licence
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