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Bats at Bodmin Jail

Fittingly for an old building steeped in history, Bodmin Jail is much loved by bats. Of the 17 resident bat species in Britain, Bodmin Jail is home to seven:

  • Common Pipistrelle
  • Brown Long-eared
  • Lesser Horseshoe
  • Greater Horseshoe
  • Whiskered
  • Daubentons
  • Natterers
Image taken in the Naval Wing 2015

Image taken in the Naval Wing 2015

An additional four species have been recorded foraging within the immediate environs of the jail, meaning that two thirds of Britain’s bat species live in and around Bodmin Jail.

  • Nathusius’ Pipistrelle
  • Soprano Pipistrelle
  • Barbastelle
  • Noctule

The jail is particularly important for its colony of Greater Horseshoe and Lesser Horseshoe bats, including a maternity roost of the latter species in part of the Gatehouse.

Horseshoe bats are among the rarest of Britain’s bat species, being restricted to South West England and Wales, and are estimated to have declined by 90% during the twentieth century. All of Britain’s bat species are protected by law as a result of their historic declines and threats to their habitats.

Our Ecology Work

Bodmin Jail has invested heavily in the construction of an additional bat ‘bungalow’, roosting boxes and converted loft spaces to help secure the future of this colony – a bespoke building, designed to be an attractive, comfortable, safe and secure environment in which these fascinating little creatures can thrive. The construction team continue to work very closely with ecologists throughout the building process, suspending work every time a bat is found hibernating behind the plaster on the walls or under tiles on the roof.

Fun Facts About Bats

  • Bats are flying mammals.

  • There are over 1000 different bat species.

  • Bats are nocturnal (active at night).

  • Bats ‘see’ in the dark using a special skill called echo-location. Bats make noises and wait for the sound waves to bounce back off objects (an echo). If it doesn’t bounce back, then they can safely fly forward. They can tell the distance of various objects by how quickly the sound waves bounce back to them.

  • Most bats feed on insects, while others eat fruit, fish or even blood! In fact, a single pipistrelle bat can eat more than 3000 insects in one night.

  • There are three species of vampire bats, which feed solely on blood. No vampire bats live in the UK!

  • Bats can live for over 20 years.

  • Pteropus bats (also known as flying foxes or fruit bats) are the largest in the world.

  • A bat’s wing is very much like a human arm and hand, except it has a thin membrane of skin (called the patagium) extending between the ‘hand’ and the body, and between each finger bone. Bats can move the wing like a hand, essentially ‘swimming’ through the air.

If you want to learn more about these wonderful creatures and find out what you can do to help conserve them, visit the Bat Conservation Trust’s website.   The free National Bat Helpline can be reached on 0845 1300 228.