Where will you find bats?
Bats make up a quarter of the UK’s mammal species, with 18 different types found throughout the UK and ten in Scotland. In Scotland, there are generally fewer species the further north and west you travel. You’ll find most of the species in southern Scotland.
All species in Scotland hibernate over winter so you are far less likely to see them during the colder months. Bats typically feed on insects, which are in short supply during winter.
Where do bats roost?
Bats are native to woodlands, but they are adept, intelligent creatures who will roost in buildings, tree holes and even underground places like tunnels and caves. They tend to return to the same roosting sites year after year.
What are the main threats to bats?
Bats are a protected species after a big drop in their numbers during the 1900s. A reduction in woodland has impacted available roosting sites, whilst the growing use of pesticides has made it more challenging to find food. Thankfully, the legal protections introduced have helped to stop their decline.
It is now illegal to deliberately or recklessly kill, injure, disturb, harass or capture a bat. It’s also an offence to damage or destroy a roost or obstruct a bat’s access to its roost.
What to do if you find a bat that needs help
If you come across a grounded bat, a bat on a wall or in an open space where it may be vulnerable, it likely requires assistance. You should avoid handling the bat but do your best to contain it. If you can, wear gloves as the bat may be carrying diseases.
If the bat is flying around, do not attempt to contain it. You may injure or kill it. The best course of action is to close the door to the room it is in, open all the windows as widely as possible and turn off all the lights and release it after dark. To make sure the bat has left, check high places and dark places such as lampshades and curtain folds.
If it isn’t flying around, the best way to contain a bat is by using a box and covering it with a cloth, towel or piece of card. If you manage to contain it, store it in a quiet, dark place until you contact us.
Call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 and one of our expert team will advise you. If appropriate we will send a Scottish SPCA animal rescue officer to assist. From there, our officer will determine whether the bat should head to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre for further assessment or be released back in to the wild. If the bat's welfare has been badly compromised, it may be that the kindest thing to do is relieve their suffering and put to sleep.
What happens to a bat at our National Wildlife Rescue Centre?
It will be assessed by our team and receive treatment based on its needs. Once it is fit to survive, we’ll identify a suitable place to release it back in to the wild.