Rare bat is found inside a woodpile in Salhouse

A soprano pipistrelle bat rescued and cared for by Jane Harris, consultant ecologist. Picture: Denis

A soprano pipistrelle bat rescued and cared for by Jane Harris, consultant ecologist. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2013

With the bitter winter weather taking its toll, many people will find themselves reaching for their woodpiles to start a nice, warm fire.

However, when one woman did just this, she discovered she had an unexpected and rare guest living in hers.

Kate Hill, of Salhouse, was rearranging her woodpile when she discovered that a bat had adopted it as its temporary home.

She said: 'I was certainly surprised to see it. I know very little about bats, but I recognised that it was one.'

The bat in question, it turns out, was the rarely seen Nathusius' pipistrelle.

'I didn't really know what to do. I was reluctant to put wood back on the pile, because I didn't want to crush the bat; but I also didn't want to move it because I don't know how to handle one,' she added.

Miss Hill decided to contact the Bat Conservation Trust while also placing special measures in to make sure the bat was safe.

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She said: 'I decided to shield it with some logs without piling them on top, to protect it from my pet cat, Louis, who may have seen it as an easy dinner.'

The bat was collected by Jane Harris, a volunteer bat carer and ecologist, who took it into her care.

Ms Harris, of East Carleton, said: 'I thought it was rather unusual to find it in such a vulnerable place. Not a lot is known about this particular bat, in comparison to others, but they do have very few breeding colonies in the United Kingdom.

Ms Harris explained that the Nathusius' pipistrelle is identifiable by the fact that it is slightly larger than the common pipistrelle, as well as having larger forearms and a bigger pattern of veins in the wing membrane.

She added: 'Active season for these bats is coming to a close, with more going into hibernation; however, I have no idea how it ended up in Miss Hill's woodpile.'

Ms Harris examined the bat and took it home, where it is now feeding well and appears to have no external injuries. However, she is still unsure whether it is suffering internal injuries, as she discovered blood in its urine.

A spokesman from the Bat Conservation Trust said: 'If you find a bat on the ground, on an outside wall, or in an exposed area where it may be vulnerable, call the National Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228 (Mon-Fri 9am to 5.30pm) for further advice.

'For advice when the helpline is closed have a look at our website – www.bats.org.uk – which also has contact details for local bat group helplines.'

Have you found an interesting creature on your property? Call David Hannant on 01603 693892.