All species of bats in the UK are European Protected Species (EPS). It is against the law to damage or destroy a bat’s breeding site or resting place (known as a roost), or deliberately to capture, kill, injure or disturb a bat.
Bats are the only mammals which can fly. They are warm blooded, they suckle their babies and are intelligent, social animals. British bats feed only on insects, of which they consume vast numbers to sustain their energetic lifestyles. A pipistrelle bat can eat up to 3000 midges in a single night!
We have 12 species of bat breeding in Wales. Many of these have suffered severe declines, not just in Britain but throughout Europe.
All British bat species are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended), known as the ‘Habitats Regulations’. Bats have a unique relationship with humans, sometimes sharing our homes for part of the year. For this reason, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) deals with many hundreds of bat enquiries each year from householders.
This information is focused on the protection of bats in Wales and is not a comprehensive review of bat ecology or the law relating to bats.
Distribution of bats in Wales
|Common pipistrelle (45kHz)
Soprano pipistrelle (55kHz)
Brown long-eared bat
|The three most common species. Found throughout Wales. Very dependent on buildings.|
|Noctule||Nyctalus noctula||Found throughout Wales – mainly roosts in tree-holes.Quite common.|
|The members of this closely related group may be more numerous in Wales than in much of Britain. Widespread and not uncommon.|
|Daubenton’s bat||Myotis daubentonii||Daubenton’s may be less dependent on buildings than others.|
Lesser horseshoe *
|Two critically endangered species.
The greater horseshoe is largely confined to Pembrokeshire and Gwent.
The lesser horseshoe has a wider distribution but is nevertheless still rare.
|Barbastelle *||Barbastella barbastellus||A very rare species with only a few breeding populations known in Wales.|
|Both species are rare in Wales and are more commonly found in southern England.|
|Bechstein’s bat *
Grey long-eared bat
|Very rare, with breeding populations restricted to southern England and possibly Wales.
This species is rare in the UK with breeding roosts only known in England and Northern Ireland.
A very rare species, closely related to the whiskered bat that has only recently been discovered in England.
*Species listed under Annex II of the Habitats Directive.
Under the Habitats Regulations, it is an offence if you:
- deliberately capture, injure or kill any wild animal of an EPS
- deliberately disturb wild animals of any such species
- damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an animal
Disturbance is defined as that which is likely:
1. to impair their ability –
- to survive, to breed or reproduce, or to rear or nurture their young, or
- in the case of animals of a hibernating or migratory species, to hibernate or migrate; or
2. to affect significantly the local distribution or abundance of the species to which they belong.
Defra and the Welsh Government will publish a joint guidance document on the interpretation of the offences relating to disturbance, and to damage and destruction of breeding sites and resting places.
There are other offences relating to possession, transport and sale.
NRW issues licences under Regulation 53 of the Habitats Regulations to allow you to work within the law. See ‘Bat Licensing’ for more information.
If you are a householder and have concerns about bats at your property (other than queries related to planning applications or a development), contact our Enquiry Line for advice, telephone 0300 065 3000.