Brown long-eared bat Plecotus auritus

A medium-sized bat, the brown long-eared bat certainly lives up to its name! All British bats are nocturnal, feeding on midges, moths and other flying insects which they find in the dark by using echolocation. They have greyish-brown fur and characteristically big ears. It can be easy to confuse brown long-eared bats with grey long-eared bats, but grey long-eared bats are a Mediterranean species that are only found in a few small colonies in southern England.

Behaviour

Brown long-eared bats roost in holes in trees and loft voids in old buildings. They hibernate over winter, between November and April. They feed on insects in large gardens, along hedgerows, in parks and in woodland. They have a relatively slow, fluttery flight and dive close to the ground to hunt, which leaves them vulnerable to predators.

Size

  • Length: 9cm
  • Weight: 5-11g
  • Wingspan: 25cm
  • Average lifespan: can live up to 30 years

Status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. All bat species found in Scotland are classed as European protected species. They receive full protection under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994. This means that it is illegal to harm a bat, disturb their roosts or their young, or to capture or sell a bat.

Distribution

Widespread throughout the country, but absent from exposed islands including Orkney, Shetland and most of the Western isles.

When to see

April – October

Facts

  • The brown long-eared bat is known as the ‘whispering bat’, because its voice is very quiet – no need to shout when you have such big ears!
  • While at rest it tends to either curl its ears back or tuck them under its wings.

Common name

Brown long-eared bat

Species name

Plecotus auritus

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

April – October

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Loch Fleet or Roslin Glen.

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