Brandt's bat (Myotis brandtii) was first discovered in Europe in 1958 (2), but was only separated from the very similar species, the whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus) in 1970 (5). Both species have shaggy fur (5), which is light brown in colour with a golden sheen (2). The belly is a paler grey with yellowish tinges (2). The wing membrane, nose and ears are light brown (2). Distinguishing features between whiskered and Brandt's bats are in the shape of the tragus, the teeth and the penis, which in Brandt's bat has a club-shaped tip (2). Brandt's bats also tend to be somewhat lighter in colour and larger in size (2).
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 (6). 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' (7). 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 (7). Brandt's bats produce echolocation calls of frequencies between 35 and 80 kilohertz (5). They emerge during early dusk, and with fast, agile flight they hunt over water or at low levels through woodland (2), feeding on moths, other small insects and spiders (5). Mating tends to occur in autumn (5), but fertilisation is delayed until the following spring (7). Females gather into maternity colonies in summer, typically numbering 20 to 60 females (7). They give birth to a single young in June or July. At three weeks of age the young bat can fly, and it is able to forage independently by about six weeks of age (5). In Britain, only small numbers of Brandt's bats have been found hibernating in caves and tunnels, so it seems likely that the majority of the population spends the winter hibernating in as yet unknown sites (5).
In Britain, Brandt's bat is widespread in the north and west of England and Wales, but rare elsewhere (7). It has been found in southern Scotland (2), but its status there is not known (7). It occurs from central to northern Europe, but is absent from southern and western areas (7). This bat is rare in Germany and endangered in Austria (2).
Brandt's bat is associated with woodland habitats, particularly where there is water. Summer roosts are often in the roof timbers of buildings and in bat boxes, hibernation sites are in caves, cellars, mines and tunnels (2).
Brandt's bat is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (8). 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) (3). 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 (4).
Brandt's bat is threatened by the decline of woodland, and intensive agricultural practices, particularly the use of pesticides. Disturbance of their roosting and hibernation sites may also be a problem (5).
In Britain, bats benefit from a very comprehensive level of legal protection (4). 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 (3).
Detecting objects by reflected sound. Used for orientation and detecting and locating prey by bats and cetacea (whales and dolphins).
A winter survival strategy characteristic of some mammals in which an 's metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer. In insects, the correct term for hibernation is 'diapause', a temporary pause in development and growth. Any stage of the lifecycle (eggs, larvae, pupae or adults) may enter diapause, which is typically associated with winter.
A soft cartilaginous projection extending in front of the external opening of the ear. In bats it is thought to aid in the location of prey by generating many echoes, but the precise way in which this works is unknown.
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