UK Politics

Camerons get unexpected visit from bat at No 10 flat

Natterer's bat
Image caption There are 18 species of bat in the UK

David and Samantha Cameron have had a surprise visitor at No 10 - but not one listed in official engagements.

The prime minister told a meeting in Cornwall that his wife had been disturbed by a bat flying into their residence in Downing Street.

Describing his "wildlife experience" to an audience in Newquay, he said he and Samantha had removed the nocturnal animal in a "delicate operation".

Bat conservation groups said the animals were placid by nature.

The prime minister revealed the bat's appearance when he was asked a question about keeping monkeys as pets by a member of the public during one of his regular Cameron Direct meetings.

"I got back to 10 Downing Street after the police bravery awards and my wife rang just as I was getting out of the car to explain that a bat had flown into the No 10 flat," he explained.

"A very delicate operation was taken to try and collect said bat and get it out the window all in one piece, which I'm pleased to say that we did," he said.

"I don't know how the bat is doing now, but anyway, I did my best."

'First case'

The Bat Conservation Trust told the BBC that the prime minister should ideally have left the bat - which is believed to have made its way into the historic building through an open window alone - and allowed it to find its own way out.

"Bats have a very sophisticated system for finding their way around in the dark, but despite this, some do end up getting trapped inside buildings," a spokesman said.

"UK bat species are protected by law as their numbers have decreased dramatically, so Mr Cameron should view his bat encounter as a privileged experience with a vital part of our threatened natural heritage."

A Downing Street spokesman stressed that Mr Cameron had been "careful" in his handling of the creature.

"This is the first instance of a bat in Downing Street as far as we know. David Cameron caught the bat and carefully released it."

No 10 was unable to confirm whether he wore gloves during the encounter, which is recommended due to the small risk of catching a rabies-related virus.

There are 18 species of bat in the UK.

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