A collection of wildlife photographs

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Hibernating bats

As the frosts roll in with winter, many animals go underground to hibernate. Bats are no exception. On a trip to several bat hibernacula today, I came across 4 species: Daubenton's Myotis daubentonii, Natterer's Myotis nattereri, Brown Long-eared Bat Plecotus auritus and Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus. These photos were taken under the supervision of a licenced bat worker.

Daubenton's bat Myotis daubentonii
There were abundant Daubenton's bat in the caves, tunnels and ice houses. This species can be identified by its relatively short ears that lack the curled tips of Natterer's. Its face is quite dark, and Daubenton's has large feet which it uses to catch insects with whilst foraging over water.
Daubenton's bat Myotis daubentonii
Daubenton's bat Myotis daubentonii
The relatively large feet of Daubenton's bat Myotis daubentonii

Natterer's bat Myotis nattereri
There was a frequent number of Natterer's bat in the hibernaculae. Compared to Daubenton's, this bat species has longer ears, with curled ear tips. It also has a relatively pink face.

Natterer's bat Myotis nattereri

Brown Long-eared bat Plecotus auritus
There were occasional Brown Long-eared bats in the hibernacula.This species is notorious for its large ears. This species has a niche hunting strategy, instead of using echolocation as much as other bats with smaller ears, it uses its large ears to listen to its insect prey. This is effective as insects cannot hear this quieter predator, until it is often too late. When hibernating Brown Long-eared Bats often tuck their large ears behind their arms to reduce heat loss. The photograph below shows this - just the tragus of the ears is sticking up.

Brown Long-eared bat Plecotus auritus

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