Bats in Suffolk - species information

  • There are over 900 different species of bats in the world equating to around a quarter of all the mammal species.
  • They play an important part in the worlds ecosystem with many species acting as pollinators for plants that provide food for the human race such as bananas.
  • Bats are one of the few mammals that live in close proximity to people with many species choosing to roost in houses and other buildings.
  • Bats are at the top of their food chain and so a healthy bat population indicates a healthy environment
  • All UK bats are insect eaters and are therefore an important natural controller of insect populations.

The 18 species of bats found in the UK, 17 of which are known to be breeding. This represents a third of our total mammal species. 13 of these species have been recorded in Suffolk, with three of these being discovered only in the past 30 years.


Information about species in Suffolk:

Five of these species, lesser horseshoe, barbastelle, noctule, brown long eared and 55khz (soprano) pipistrelle, are subject to national Biodiversity Action Plans (BAP's):

A local action plan for all bat species found in Suffolk

Further information about national Biodiversitiy Action Plans

Further information on local Biodiversity Action Plans can be found on the Suffolk Biodiversity Partnership website.


Bats in Thetford Forest

In 2000 Suffolk Bat Group began monitoring bats boxes in Thetford Forest as part of a project started in 1975 by Dr Robert Stebbings. The results to date for this monitoring have been written up by bat group members Alison Collins, Arthur Rivett and Sue Hooton and published in the Transactions of the Suffolk Naturalists' Society.

A copy of the article can be read here.


Bat Conservation

There have been widespread declines in the distribution and abundance of bats, particularly during the past 50 years. The reasons for this are complex and can be attributed to a number of causes: the use of pesticides and changes in agricultural practices caused a dramatic reduction in the numbers and variety of insects, affecting food availability; the removal of woodlands and hedgerows has reduced the amount of suitable habitat and the use of toxic chemicals to kill wood-boring insects in buildings caused the deaths of large numbers of bats, with chemicals persisting for many years.

Bats are totally protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) (as amended) and The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010) (as amended). This legislation not only protects the animals themselves but also their roost sites, even when the bats are not in residence. Any activities likely to change or destroy a bat roost require consent from Natural England. More information on bat legislation can be found here.


Bat facts

  • Bats are the only true flying mammals
  • Bats can live for up to 30 years
  • Bats only have one young per year
  • All British bats eat insects
  • A single pipistrelle needs to catch and eat at least 3000 small insects every night during the summer
  • Bats are not blind they have good eye sight and but see in the dark using echo location or sonar
  • The mouse eared bat is now functionally extinct in Britain the first mammalian extinction in UK since the wolf vanished 250 years ago