Bat Species

PIPISTRELLE BAT Pipistrellus pipistrellus
There are over a thousand species of bat on Earth, seventeen of which live in the UK. Sadly, the majority of British bat species are endangered or face extinction. At Plas Farm in South Wales we have recorded 4 species – the Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle, Natterer’s bat amd Daubenton’s bat. These small creatures can be seen at night, foraging around the trees and above the farmyard. The most common is the Pipistrelle, an insect eating bat whose special talent is to consume up to 3,000 insects in one night! BBQ enthusiasts will be pleased to know that most of those are gnats.

We would love to find more bat species at the farm and have a bat detector available to our holiday cottage guests which is great fun to use at dusk around the farm. Look out for Pipistrelles. They normally emerge about 20 minutes after sunset and circle the farm buildings, flickering their wings rapidly in a jerky, erratic flight in pursuit of some grub (quite literally). We also have a guide book and audio CD to help identify any species you may hear. If you would like to use it, just ask on arrival at your holiday cottage. It really is quite astonishing to listen to them and it is probably a blessing that we can’t hear them under normal circumstances.

Bats make up one fourth of the mammal species on Earth. They have existed on this planet for at least 50 million years and come in a bewildering array of shapes and sizes. Some bats weigh less than a one penny piece while others are a thousand times heavier with wing spans of six feet. Some bats can hear the footsteps of a nearby beetle and others suck blood from living animals. They belong to an order called Chiroptera, or “hand-winged”, and the majority of them have one startling ability – to navigate in total darkness by echolocation. By decoding ”˜machine gun’ bursts of echoes during flight, they are able to build up a highly accurate picture of the world through which they fly. A world in which they are the only mammals capable of sustained flight.

You will be pleased to know that there are no blood sucking six foot bats at Plas Farm, but we still like bats and figured that as the bats we do have (tiny Pipistrelles) help to make an evening sitting outside our holiday cottages a very pleasant experience, we should only help them in return. After all, being mammals they are our cousins. Indeed, the bat’s wing anatomically resembles the human hand, with extremely elongated fingers and a wing membrane stretched between. Female bats give birth to one poorly developed baby bat (known as a pup) which is then nursed on milk from a pair of pectoral breasts. And if we needed more clues – they even share our houses! We support the Bat Conservation Trust.


“It is currently thought that primates (humans, apes and monkeys) and bats share a common shrew-like ancestor and are more closely related to humans than first anticipated.” Wikipedia
“Their faces are often distorted into gargoyle shapes that appear hideous to us until we see them for what we are, exquisitely fashioned instruments for beaming ultrasound in desired directions.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker

“How does a bat keep track of its own echoes, and avoid being mislead by the echoes of other bats? It seems that bats use some sort of ”˜strangeness filter’. The bat’s brain relies upon the assumption that the world portrayed by any one echo pulse will be either the same as the world portrayed by previous pulses, or only slightly different: the insect being tracked may have moved a little for instance.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker