Belfry bats

Cave spiders - a good name, but it's not what Bill Oddie is looking for. He's here looking for bats. County Kerry has eight different species. He won't be able to touch them because you need a special licence to handle bats, but somewhere down in in the crypt of a ruined friary is a man who does: Conor Kelleher. Bill and Connor find some bats. One of the smaller species, a very rare type, is called a whiskered bat and has very, very dark features. The first person who identified it decided he had a very furry face but all bats have furry faces – there are no whiskers as such. Bats eat a fantastic amount of insect prey in a night - usually they can increase their body weight by about 50 per cent. That equates to about 3,500 midges every night. They're nature's insecticide. They're so tiny they can squeeze into cracks and crevices in peoples roofs and they usually live underneath the tiles and most people don't even know they have bats. You won't find them in places full of cobwebs, because they're very clean. They don't like cobwebs, so it's a good sign if you've got bats in your house - it means you've got a nice clean house. The long-eared bat is a gleaning species. That means that it's not picking prey out of the night sky as such like other species, it actually goes in to the canopy of trees and it picks the insects and the spiders off the leaves of trees, so it can actually hover like a little hummingbird. This guy's actually one of the whispering bats. While other bats are going out there shouting as loud as they can - maybe up to 110 decibels, as loud as a jack hammer or a jet taking off - this little fella has learned that moths can hear the other bats coming because they are so loud. So he tries to sneak up on the moth and he whispers his echolocation calls. Thus he needs huge ears to be able to hear the echoes of whispers. The lesser horseshoe bat actually shouts his noises out through his nose at a much higher frequency. He uses his nose like a little trumpet. This bat is known as the bat of the aristocracy because they used to live in the big houses in Ireland, but unfortunately a lot of these houses have now been destroyed. The bats have gone down the property market you could say, since they're now found in places like farm buildings. That one is grooming himself with his back foot - using it like a comb to comb his little belly.

Release date: 06 Jun 2010

over a year left to watch

5 minutes


Role Contributor
PresenterBill Oddie
ExpertConor Kelleher
Camera OperatorGavin Thurston
Sound EngineerChris Watson
ProducerSean Christian

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