Llangovan Church provides a safe roost for lesser horseshoe bats.
Following the establishment of a number of reserves for otters in the 1980s, VWT purchased a major roost for greater horseshoe bats in Devon. From the early 1990s, further bat roosts were acquired and today the Trust manages nearly 40 roost sites in Britain and Ireland.
From the mid-1990s, VWT has concentrated much of its resources on bat conservation, including the protection and enhancement of roosts for rare bats. It has acquired a number of key breeding roosts for rarer bats and specifically the horseshoe bats. Most of the Trust’s reserves are old buildings and most are summer roosts. In the south-west of England, the Trust’s reserves include one of the largest known greater horseshoe bat maternity roosts in western Europe. In total, VWT’s reserves support a substantial proportion of the British greater horseshoe bat population. Additionally, in Wales, we manage a roost site that is home to the largest known lesser horseshoe maternity colony in western Europe. In Ireland, the Trust’s reserves collectively provide a home to 31% of the Irish lesser horseshoe bat population.
The course of action undertaken once a roost has been leased or purchased by the Trust depends on the condition of the building. In some cases, only minor works have been necessary to ensure the building continues as a suitable breeding site, but where the building has been in an advanced state of disrepair, major rebuilding work is necessary. Although the buildings acquired have ranged from single storey stone cottages to much larger structures, the aim of the renovation work is the same: to provide a structurally-sound building that also meets the roosting needs of the bats.
At some reserves, ‘bat specific’ features have been incorporated to further enhance the building, based on research and practical measures tested at VWT sites. This work is described in detail in our Lesser Horseshoe Bat Conservation Handbook. This book is currently out of print but a new edition is planned for 2021. Please contact us if you have a specific query about this book.
Watch a new BBC documentary Inside the Bat Cave, now available on BBC iPlayer and featuring one of our greater horseshoe bat reserves.
Bryanston Old Kitchens, Dorset, is home to one of the longest studied bat roosts in the UK.
Pencelli Mill, Powys, is a disused water mill located on a tributary of the River Usk.
This cottage, in County Clare, is one of our Irish VWT bat reserves.