Bat Reference Books

Top Bat Books for Ecologists

Are you confused which books to splash out on?

It can be tricky for new ecologists to know which books to start with. Below is a list of some of our favourite books to learn more about bats in general as well as books on survey work.

The list has been broken down into the following subjects.

  • Bat Licence Training
  • Bat Consultancy
  • Bat Ecology
  • Species Identification
  • Sound Analysis
  • Habitat-specific
  • Species specific
  • Research   
  • Bats of the World
  • Expedition Techniques

Bat Licence Training

Bat Workers Manual

The third edition was published in 2014 and consequently some sections, particularly those on legislation and survey methods are a littled dated. Nevertheless, this book provides an excellent introduction to all aspecects of bat work and is essential reading for anyone wishing to obtain a licence to carry out bat work in the UK.

A pdf download is available.

Bat Consultancy

Bats Surveys for Profesional Ecologists

Bat Surveys for Professional Ecologists: Good Practice Guidelines (3rd edition) is an essential reference guide for ecological consultants undertaking bat surveys.

A pdf download is available.

Bat Ecology

Bats from Evolution to Conservation by John Altringham

A picture containing bird
Description automatically generated

This book is a fantastic all-rounder. Bats are highly charismatic and fascinating animals illustrating most of the topical and important concepts and issues in mammalian biology. This second edition book covers the key aspects of bat biology, including evolution, flight, echolocation, hibernation, reproduction, feeding, and roosting ecology, social behavior, migration, population and community ecology, biogeography, and conservation. This book is a great starting point for any upcoming bat ecologist

British Bats – John Altringham

John Altrincham studied the ecology of bats and is actively involved in bat conservation. This book is one of the new naturalist series and provides a very comprehensive account of the natural history of British bats. It covers their habits, what they eat, how they fly, their reproduction process, their echolocation system, and the threats to their survival. It explains how to study bats by watching them in the wild. It describes their habitats and the locations where you are most likely to find a specific species of bats. It also has a word for the amateur bat enthusiast and suggests how they can improve their knowledge and help the conservation process which is being undertaken throughout the country and, indeed, throughout the world.

Bats by Phil Richardson

This books is well written, with some excellent, fun illustrations by Guy Troughton. It provides an exellent introduction, and is particularly suitable for a child or teenager interested in bats.

Species Identification

Bats of Britain and Europe by Christian Dietz and Andreas Kiefer

This spectacular handbook is one of the most popular guides in the UK, presenting all 45 bat species that occur across Europe including the 17 UK breeding species. The remarkable biology of bats is comprehensively covered and delves into current research in both bat evolution and echolocation. In-depth species accounts discuss conservation status and identification,  diet and lifestyle. This book, illustrated throughout with breathtaking colour photography and beautiful diagrams makes it an authoritative guide and essential reading for the bat enthusiast.

A Guide to British Bats ( Fold Out Chart)

This laminated fold out leaflet published by the Field Studies Council is one of an excellent series designed to help people unfamiliar with a group to pinless learn the key identification features, and is excellent for use in the field.

Sound Analysis

Four excellent and easy to use sound analysis books have been published by Pelagic Publishing. A Guide to British Bats and Bat Calls of Britain and Europe have been written by Jon Russ and give a clear explanation on how echolocation and bat detectors works. There are colour illustrations of sonograms for each species of British Bat and there is a useful selection on bat social calls.It covers heterodyne, time expansion and. frequency division.

Neil Middleton has built upon the work on social calls with a more detailed guide on the different types of scoial calls (aggresion or threat, distress, isolation and advertisement calls). Is that a Bat focuses on calls other than bats that may be picked up on detectors. Acoustic Ecology of European Bats by Michel Barataud and Yves Tupinier is a more technical guide and details the findings of years of years of acoustic detection work. It includes a CD with numerous example calls which can be helpful in supporting the development of your own refernce call library.

Habitat-Specific Books

Bat Roosts in Trees: A Guide to Identification and Assessment for Tree-Care and Ecology by Henry Andrews

This book, published in 2018, brings together all that is currently known about how bats use trees as roost sites and is the culmination of collaborative efforts of surveyors and naturalists throughout Europe taking part in the Bat Tree Habitat Key project.

The links to resources held on the Bat Tree Habitat Key are very useful.

Bats in Forests – Conservation and Management – edited by Michael J. Lacki, John P. Hayes, Allen Kurta

Bats are often considered to be Cave dweller, though many species are highly dependent on forests for part or all of the year. Bats is forests displays the work of various experts who address varying aspects regarding the ecology and conservation of bats. The author discusses roost selection, seasonal migration, and foraging patterns as they relate to forests. Forest management is also discussed and how it can affect these species. Bats play a hugely important role in nutrient recycling, the control of insects, and the general ecology of the forest, which is revealed by a number of different authors contained in the book. This is an indispensable read for forest ecologists, forest managers, and bat ecologists and conservationists.

Species-Specific Books

Brown Long Eared Bats by Robert W Howard

This study on bats is an engaging book covering all aspects of the elusive bat. It is a comprehensive exposition from the author who combines 15 years of personal study of bats with reviews of many published works by other authors. It is a very instructive and an excellent reference book for anyone researching, surveying or studying bats.


Ecological and Behavioural Methods for the Study of Bats by Thomas Kunz

This is a comprehensive exposition on bats which is a must for both amateur and professionals alike. It provides field and laboratory studies on bats which will be invaluable for years to come. This book would also be useful as a practical guide for students, researchers, wildlife conservationists, and consultants with the ecological background and specific information needed to study bats in the wild and in captivity.

“‘Ecological and Behavioural Methods for the Study of Bats’ more than delivers on its promise to provide a practical guide for students, researchers, and wildlife biologists. It should be on the bookshelves of every bat biologist and required reading for other researchers interested in bats.” – Animal Behaviour 2010

Bat Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Intervention

This book is reviewed annually and oulines the scientific evidence for mitigation.

A pdf download is available.

Bats of the World

Bats by Marianne Taylor

A close up of a logo
Description automatically generated

This illustrated handbook features the work of famed nature photographer Merlin D. Tuttle and in-depth profiles of a vast 288 bats ranging from the Large Flying Fox to the Bumblebee Bat and includes close-up images of these animals delicate and intricate forms and faces, each shaped by evolution to meet the demands of an extraordinarily specialized life, and a thorough introduction which explores their natural history and unique adaptations to life on the wing. 

Handbook of The Mammals of the World Volume 9

A close up
Description automatically generated

Volume 9, though pricey at £140, completes the Handbook of Mammals of the World series, and it delves into the wonderful world of bats, order Chiroptera. Over the past two decades, our knowledge of bats has exploded, and this tome reflects the updated information that has been collected. During that time, the number of recognized species has increased by more than 400 and will likely continue to grow as we discover more species. There are Bats occupying almost every habitat on six continents and their ecology is largely diverse. Bats are critical for the maintenance of tropical ecosystems. This text includes illustrations and up-to date information on every species including colour photographs documenting a variety of the behavioural traits of these fascinating mammals.

Expedition Techniques

Expedition field techniques – Kate Barlow

A close up of a sign
Description automatically generated

This book is an excellent  field guide for bat surveyors and the current go-to for those planning expeditions. Kate Barlow who died age 44 sadly from illness was a leader in field and with this books she aimed to give an introduction and overview of techniques that could be used in the field to study bats. The book is mainly aimed at fairly small expeditions that intend to carry out quite general surveys and initial studies.