Nathusius's Pipistrelle (pipistrellus nathusii)


Kingdom         Animalia

Phylum            Chordata

Class    Mammalia

Order   Chiroptera

Family Vespertilionidae

Genus  Pipistrellus (1)

Size     Head-body length: 46 - 55 mm (2)

Forearm length: 32 - 37 mm (2)

Ear length: 10 - 14 mm (2)

Wingspan: 220 - 250 mm (2)

Tail length: 32 - 40 mm (2)

Weight            6 - 15.5 g (2)



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 etc) 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.


Nathusius's pipistrelle is a small bat, with long wings. It was not known to breed in Great Britain until as recently as 1997. The fur on the back is reddish brown during summer and moults to a darker brown in winter. The belly is a lighter, yellowish-brown throughout the year. The wing membranes, tail and short triangular ears are blackish-brown.


Occurs mainly in central and eastern Europe, with possible populations in Spain, Portugal, and Scandinavia. There are few records from Britain, all of which have been from south England. Breeding colonies are known in Lincolnshire and Northern Ireland, and the discovery of populations of Nathusius's pipistrelle is becoming more frequent. You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.




A species of woodland, parks, and more rarely areas with human settlement. It is often found in riparian habitats. Maternity roosts occur in hollow trees and bat boxes, and hibernation takes place in crevices in cliffs, walls, hollow trees and caves.


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 therefore called 'ultrasound'. Bats 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. Nathusius's pipistrelles produce echolocation calls at frequencies between 38 and 70 kHz. They emerge during early dusk and hunt with fast manoeuvrable flight, for flying insects. Mating takes place between late July and early September, during this time a single male defends a mating territory of 3 to 10 females against other males. Fertilisation is delayed until the following spring, as females store sperm inside their uterus (womb) during hibernation. In April and May maternity roosts of 50-200 females form. Two young are normally produced in late July, which are able to fly at 4 weeks of age. In autumn, many individuals undertake a migration to the southwest in order to escape the worst of the winter weather; occasionally individuals have covered distances of more than 1,000 kilometres in parts of Europe. This bat is known to live to a maximum of 7 years.


Like all bats, Nathusius's pipistrelle is vulnerable to a number of threats, including the loss of roost sites; hollow trees are often felled if thought unsafe or 'untidy'. Habitat change and loss, affecting the availability of insect prey and causing the fragmentation of feeding habitat is a serious problem for many bats, furthermore pesticide use has devastating effects, by causing severe declines in insect prey abundance, and contaminating food with potentially fatal toxins.


In Britain, bats benefit from a 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 per bat affected and six months imprisonment are in place for these offences. Several species of bat also benefit by the public putting bat boxes up. Research and proposals for conservation action have been made for this species under the Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe (part of the Bonn Convention, or Convention on Migratory Species). This work will help to protect the transboundary habitats of this migratory species.           

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

            There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.

Find out more

For more on British bats, their conservation and how to help see:

The Bat Conservation Trust: