The Pipistrelle bats are the smallest of the bats found in the UK. Pipistrellus pipistrellus has dark brown to rusty coloured fur on its back and Pipistrellus pygmaeus has olive brown fur on its back. Both have yellowish/brown fur on their undersides, although Pipistrellus pygmaeus will occasionally have yellowish/grey fur instead. The nose, wings membranes and ears on both Pipistrellus and Pipistrellus pygmaeus are black/brown in colour. Until recently both Pipistrellus and Pipistrellus pygmaeus were in fact believed to be the same bat with slight colour variations, however, differences have now been discovered at both a genetic level and in the frequency they use for their echolocation calls. Pipistrellus echo-locates at 45 kHz and Pipistrellus pygmaeus echo-locates at 55 kHz. Both types of Pipistrelle bat have a visibly fast and jerky flight pattern.
The Pipistrelle bat is the most abundant bat in the UK and can be found across the whole of the UK, excluding some remote offshore islands.
Pipistrelle bats are found in most habitats including, Parks, urban areas, marshes, open woodland and farmland. They roost in trees and under external roof features such as overhanging tiles during the summer period and hibernate from mid November to April in provided bat boxes, building crevices, trees and cellars.
Mating occurs during autumn with fertilisation taking place the following spring. Females form their maternity roosts between May and August and give birth to one offspring, known as a pup, between June and Mid July. The pup is capable of flight around 3 to 4 weeks after birth and will eventually leave the roost between August and September.
Although not a direct threat from a predator, Pipistrelle bats are vulnerable to the loss of roost sites and any change/loss of habitat that results in the reduction in the availability of its prey. Pesticides are also a threat to the Pipistrelle bat due to not only the detrimental impact they can have on its insect prey population but also due to the potential contamination of prey with fatal toxins. Insecticides and toxic timber treatments are also recognised as a considerable threat to the Pipistrelle bat.
Although Pipistrelle bats are not listed as threatened they are a priority species under the UK's Biodiversity Action Plans, within which the species action plan aims to restore the Pipistrelle bats numbers back to those recorded before 1970. 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.
Did You Know?:
One Pipistrelle bat may consume in the region of 3000 insects in a single night.