Daubenton's bat (Myotis daubentonii)
Size Head/body length: 45 - 55 mm
Tail length: 31 - 44.5 mm
Forearm length: 35 - 41.7 mm
Ear length: 10.5 - 14.2 mm
Wingspan: 240 - 275 mm
Weight 7 - 15 g
In Great Britain, all bats are fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) as amended, and by the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations (1994). An agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe (EUROBATS) under the auspices of the Bonn Convention, also known as the Convention on Migratory species (CMS) is in force, and all European bats are listed under Appendix II of the CMS
Daubenton's bat is a medium-sized to small species. The fur has a fluffy appearance, is brownish-grey to bronze on the back, and silvery grey on the belly. The ears, which are held folded at right angles if the bat is agitated, and the wing membranes are greyish brown in colour; the nose and face is reddish pink, and there is a bare area around the eyes. Juveniles are darker in colour than adults. The large feet are bordered with long bristles
Widespread throughout Britain, reaching northern Scotland. Daubenton's bat is also widespread throughout much of Europe.
Associated with water bodies such as rivers and canals, and found mainly in flat countryside, particularly in woodlands. Summer colonies occur in underground tunnels, caves, cellars and mines, or underneath bridges, but are always near water. Tree holes and bat boxes are also used. They hibernate during winter in caves, mines and other subterranean sites.
Bats are the only true flying mammals. In Britain they are insectivorous (eat insects), and contrary to popular misconception they are not blind; many can actually see very well. All British bats use echolocation to orient themselves at night; they emit bursts of sound that are of such high frequencies they are beyond the human range of hearing and are called 'ultrasound'. They then listen to and interpret the echoes bounced back from objects, including prey, around them, allowing them to build up a 'sound-picture' of their surroundings. Daubenton's bats produce echolocation calls of frequencies between 35 and 85 kHz, but most calls peak at 45 to 50 kHz. They emerge at twilight, and with fast, agile flight they hunt over water, close to the surface, taking small flies, midges, mayflies and moths. They have been seen taking prey from the surface of the water using the tail membrane or the feet, eating the prey whilst flying. Mating tends to occur in autumn, but fertilisation is delayed until the following spring. Females gather into maternity colonies in summer, the young bats are suckled for several weeks, reaching independence at around 6 to 8 weeks of age. Males and non-breeding females may gather into communal roosts in the summer, or they may live in the maternity roosts, but in separate groups to the breeding females. Hibernation occurs between the end of September and late March or April. Daubenton's bats are known to live to a maximum of 20 years, although the average life expectancy is closer to 4 to 4.5 years .
Removal of waterside trees and disturbance of hibernacula (sites of hibernation) could pose problems for this species. However, it seems that Daubenton's bat is increasing in some parts of its range, possibly as a result of the increase in artificial water bodies.
In Britain, bats benefit from a very comprehensive level of legal protection. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure, take or sell a bat, posses a live bat or part of a bat, to intentionally (or in England and Wales, recklessly) damage, obstruct or destroy access to bat roosts. Under the Conservation Regulations it is an offence to damage or destroy breeding sites or resting places. Fines of up to £5,000 for every bat affected and up to six months imprisonment are in place for these offences
Find out more
To find out more about the conservation of this and other British bats see:
The Bat Conservation Trust:
The Vincent Wildlife Trust: