So what creatures would you most closely associate with Halloween?
I guess that as well as spiders and black cats, bats would come pretty high up on your list?
Thanks to the ‘countless’ Dracula movies and the increasing popularity of next week’s Halloween festivities (mainly spurred on by our friends over in the US); bats have obtained an unjust reputation for not only attacking people, but also getting tangled in their hair and even being virulent carriers of rabies – statements which are simply untrue.
The first two accusations are myth and, as for the latter, bats are no more of an additional threat of rabies than any other average mammal.
They are actually a most welcome addition to any garden as they feast on flying insects, providing a highly efficient natural pest-control service!
Traditionally, bats love woodlands, graveyards and ancient trees but these fascinating creatures of the night also thrive in our cities utilising our green spaces.
One species particularly at risk from predators are Brown long-eared bats (see below) as they fly close to the ground hunting for insects and sometimes have to land to tackle their prey.
As their name suggests, long-eared bats have strikingly large ears, which are three quarters the length of the head and body. When resting, the ears are folded and held backwards.
Brown long-eared bats can live up to 30 years of age. However their feeding behaviour makes them vulnerable to attack and sadly, many fall victim to our domestic cats.
As responsible pet owners we can go a long way to helping bat populations in urban areas. By simply ensuring that your cat is kept in, an hour after sunset and an hour before sunrise, many bats will have a better chance of feeding and then returning safely to their roosting sites.
If you would like to know more about bats and how to help wildlife in your garden visit www.sussexbatgroup.org.uk