A Greater Horseshoe Bat
Bats: Making their home in Devon
Devon is home to a third of all Greater Horseshoe Bats in Britain. And it's all down to cattle dung and limestone.
Meet a group of fellas who just love hanging about it Devon.
These are the Greater Horseshoe Bats who have made their home in Devon thanks to the perfect conditions.
A recent survey by English Nature found that there are only 5,500 of the species left in Britain, and a third of them - 1,800 - live right here in Devon.
Around 1,200 of the nocturnal creatures reside in caves near Buckfastleigh, making it the biggest roost of Greater Horseshoe Bats in western Europe.
Bats love limestone caves
The bats love the dung beetle and limestone, and the area around Buckfastleigh has plenty of those two ingredients on offer.
Devon's huge network of hedges are also vital for navigational reasons, and the county's mild winters give the 'upside-down' creatures a better chance of survival.
There may be thousands of Greater Horseshoe Bats in Devon, but you're lucky if you ever see one - even at their greatest wingspan of seven inches.
John Diamond from English Nature said: "A few people know they're here and very few actually see them.
"But that's one of their attractions - they are elusive and few people know they're around.
"And of course they don't do people any harm. They're not blind; they're not going to fly into your hair; and they only eat insects. They are friendly little animals."
The Greater Horseshoe Bat is a protected species and it is illegal to disturb them - so it's difficult to assess their numbers very accurately.
last updated: 22/02/2008 at 10:45