Bats and trees: Who does what where!
19/03/2018 Last Modified: 19/07/2023
There are currently 18 species of bats resident in the UK, many of which use trees in their daily activities.
Just as people use trees for different purposes, different bat species use trees in different ways.
The UK’s bats are all insectivorous. As trees encourage a variety of insects, bats will often feed on these insects either by ‘gleaning’ them from a surface such as a spider off a web or by ‘hawking’ and catching them mid-flight.
Bats will use features of echolocation to find their way around. Large trees a line of trees in hedgerows provide landmarks along commuting routes that bats will use regularly when travelling from their roost to feed.
Bats will use trees as a feeding roost to eat their prey while foraging or to take cover if the weather gets bad.
Bats rest in a roost during day. Some bats, such as pipistrelles and barbastelle bats, are crevice dwellers and will squeeze into small nooks and crannies within a tree such as in cracks, splits or behind loose bark. Other bats prefer a little more space, using woodpecker holes or rot holes to roost in.
Bats need a safe, humid roost with a fairly stable temperature in which to hibernate over winter. A hollow trunk can provide suitable conditions for many bats to hibernate and wait for the weather to improve.
Bats and their roosts are protected by law. However, training is required to identify suitable roosting features in trees. This training provides professional arboriculturists with the tools to undertake a pre-work bat assessment of trees.
The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) runs a course specifically for arborists entitled Arboriculture and Bats: Scoping Surveys for Arborists.
This one-day course is Lantra accredited, supported by the Arboricultural Association and run at various locations across the country.
You can find out more information about the course on the BCT website: www.bats.org.uk.
There is a £5 discount for BCT or Arboricultural Association members and a 10% multi-buy discount if booking 3 or more places at the same time.
For more information on bats