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Home / Bats in Nottinghamshire / Natterer’s bat

Myotis nattereri

Description and identification

The Natterer’s bat is the largest Myotis bat currently present in Nottinghamshire. It has relatively long light brown fur to its topside and buff white fur underneath. It has a relatively long pink muzzle and pointed ears with a flick at the tip – a bit like the end of a ski!

Status and distribution

Natterer’s bat is widespread in the UK with the exception of northern Scotland. The British population of Natterer’s bat is recognised as being internationally important in a European and worldwide context.

Natterer’s bat saw a period of significant population decline from the 1950’s, most likely due to the toxicity of timber treatment chemicals used in the attic spaces of dwellings and churches. The population is now classified as stable with some signs of a slow increase since 199934.

The first record of a Natterer’s bat in Nottinghamshire is from 1984, soon after the advent of the North Nottinghamshire Bat Group, when it was recorded from the caves of Creswell Crags. As both the North and South Nottinghamshire Bat Groups began their work to document the distribution of bats in their local areas, it was discovered occasionally all over Nottinghamshire. Today it has been recorded from almost all parts of the county, but it is still a scarce animal.

Roosts

The Natterer’s bat is a species which favours historic buildings, often built of stone under a slate roof. They are also strongly associated with churches, where summer maternity roosts of up to 200 have been recorded in other counties. As a result, rural village churches represent a critical resource for the conservation of the species in the UK.

In the few churches where Natterer’s bats have been recorded in Nottinghamshire, colonies are smaller, consisting of around 20 to 60 individuals.

Unlike many other bat species in the county, the maternity roosts are not exclusively made up of nursing females and up to a quarter of the colony can be both adult and immature males.

Natterer’s bat will make use of a wide range of roosting sites, with a third of roosts found in buildings and two thirds in tree cavities, sometimes very low to the ground.

Over the winter months these bats are generally recorded hibernating in caves, disused railway tunnels and churches but in Nottinghamshire their winter refuges remain largely undiscovered.

Food and foraging

Natterer’s bat shows a preference for wetland and woodland habitats, which include villages and town suburbs supporting mature gardens, river valleys, treelines and copses or wooded churchyards. Recent research into the feeding behaviour of colonies living in churches found that their least favourite hunting habitats were arable fields and built-up areas.

The Natterer’s bat exploits its aerial prowess by hunting in and around tree branches and flying within tight cluttered areas to catch a wide range of invertebrates. It has the ability to fly and hover so that it is almost stationary and can pluck (or glean) a spider from the middle of its web without damaging a single strand, leaving the web fully intact minus its resident.

Other invertebrates that make up the diet of Natterer’s bats include flies, moths, beetles and bugs and whilst moths make up the largest proportion of prey species eaten, remarkably the second largest amount of prey species is spiders.