THE SEARCH FOR THE
GREATER MOUSE-EARED BAT
|Chris Packham goes in search
of the elusive greater mouse-eared bat
The greater mouse-eared
bat was declared extinct 12 years ago, however two individuals have
turned up in recent years.
Inside Out's Chris Packham joins in the
hunt to discover if Britain's rarest mammal has made a comeback.
The greater mouse-eared bat was declared extinct 12 years
ago after a lone male died in Sussex - thought to be the last surviving
However two years ago an elderly female mouse-eared was
found in Bognor, but died a few days later.
Then last December, a single young male was discovered
hibernating in a tunnel near Chichester.
To find out just what has become of the greater mouse-eared
bat, Inside Out sent Chris Packham to join bat workers in Sussex on a
Bats are one of the most misunderstood animals.
They are not blind and are skillful flyers that are most
unlikely to get caught in your hair!
Packham goes in search of the Britain's rarest mammal
However because they fly mainly at night they produce
a stream of high-pitched calls and listen to the returning echoes which
provide them with a distinct 'sound' picture of their surroundings.
Of the 16 species left in Britain, six are endangered
or rare and six others are regarded as vulnerable.
Whilst the mouse-eared bat may be an elusive character
to track, the pipistrelle bat, our commonest species, can be found in
abundance at Hampshire's largest bat roost - home to up to 800 bats.
Inside Out captured unique pictures of a dawn swarm, a
fascinating activity which still baffles the scientists.
Each summer large numbers of bats swarm outside their
main roost. Why they do so is not known but it's thought it may be a way
of calling other bats to the roost.
Whilst many people fear the bat - largely due to its fictional
vampire connections - they are in fact very useful to us.
The pipistrelle is only four centimetres long and weighs
less than a two pence coin but can eat up to 3,000 midges in a night.
But even the relatively common pipistrelle, has declined
70 per cent since the 1970s largely due to intensive farming, particularly
the use of pesticides and the removal of hedgerows.
|The pipistrelle is being tracked using a tiny transmitter
The pipistrelles are currently being studied by bat researcher
Ian Davidson-Watts who is trying to find out more about their feeding
and roosting habits.
To do this he fits a tiny radio transmitter onto individual
bats so he can track them.
The pipistrelle is our smallest bat and it's the first
time this particular species has been radio tracked.
Recent research has shown just how vulnerable our bat
A study by the Bat Conservation Trust and the RSPB reveals
that bat roosts are being routinely damaged or destroyed by developers.
Most of these offences occur when builders replace soffit
boards on houses or renovate derelict buildings such as barns.
Despite an extensive search of likely feeding and roost
sites by Chris and up to a dozen bat workers armed with bat detectors
the greater mouse-eared failed to put in an appearance.
However the hunt for this most elusive bat continues into