Historically, the Ulster Museum has been recognised as a centre of expertise regarding wildlife in Northern Ireland, with staff responding to a variety of enquiries including bats. However, when the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985 gave full protection to bats and their roosts, the number of bat-related calls received by the Museum increased substantially. At that point a person was appointed to deal specifically with these enquiries. This post has evolved over the years within the Museum and continues to be funded by Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).
Since 1985, the number of bat-related calls received by CEDaR’s Vertebrate Officer has increased from about 100 to around 500 per year. Of these, about 50% are referred to licensed members of the Northern Ireland Bat Group and NIEA staff. The remainder are followed up by the Vertebrate Officer.
Enquiries range from a general interest to dealing with fear of bats, requests for talks and advice on the bats or their roosts. Experienced, licensed bat roost visitors will offer advice on bats, the law or collect sick and injured bats.
What are Bats
Bats have existed on earth for a very long time with the oldest known fossil dating from around 60 million years ago. They are quite unique in that they are the only mammals capable of true flight. At present there are eight species of bats recorded in Northern Ireland, all very small and living totally on insects. For instance - a Pipistrelle (our smallest bat) can eat over 3000 midges in one night! Our bats are well adapted to night flight using ultrasonic echolocation by which they navigate as well as detecting and catching their insect prey. Like other mammals, they are warm-blooded, suckle their young, are intelligent and have a complex social behaviour.
They are shy, harmless creatures that don’t ‘suck blood’, get caught in one’s hair or gnaw anything, but they do make a valuable contribution to our environment.
Fortunately for bats, there is a local group dedicated to improving the bats’ lot. The Northern Ireland Bat Group was formed in 1985. It is a working group of enthusiasts, some of whom give talks; some members are licensed to carry out roost visits, whilst others take care of injured bats.
For information on how to become involved with the Northern Ireland Bat Group’s work please contact Robin Moffitt MBE (028 9185 2239).
BAT HELPLINES for Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, bats and their roosts are protected under the law. From time to time members of the public encounter:
- Injured bats
- Bats in rooms in the house
- Bats prior to / during home building works
- Wildlife Crime against bats
If a bat has come into a room in the house, use a glove or a cloth, lift the bat carefully, take it outside and hang it, head down, as high as you can comfortably manage, on a wall or tree with some ivy cover. Ideally, it’s best to put the bat in a shoe box with some water and keep in a quiet place during the day, then put it out at dusk or later, as it is less likely to come to the attention of crows, cats, youngsters, etc. If you have to put it out in daylight, choose somewhere that is secluded and/or sheltered.
For advice on injured bats, bats in rooms, bats discovered during building or tree works, please contact:
Office hours (Mon – Fri): CEDaR (Centre for Environmental Data and Recording) firstname.lastname@example.org / 028 9039 5264
Outside office hours: Northern Ireland Bat Group (volunteers)
- North Down: Robin Moffitt MBE - 028 9185 2239
- Tyrone, Derry, Fermanagh: Karen Healy - 07704 045 262
- Belfast: Donna Allen - 07902 929 368
- Banbridge, Newry, Mournes: Danielle Thompson - 07732 987 996
- All of Northern Ireland: Austin Hopkirk - 07769 950 758
Please note that the Northern Ireland Bat Group is a voluntary organisation and may not be in a position to help you immediately with your enquiry.
To report a Wildlife Crime against bats (or against any other wildlife), please:
- Dial 101 and ask to be connected to your local PSNI station
- Request to report a ‘Wildlife Crime’
- Request the ‘C&C reference’ of your logged report for your own records
Please follow this link to read some of the commonly asked questions from bat enquiries
. The information is aimed to provide advice and reassurance in the first instance prior to speaking to an expert.
An information booklet - Focus on Bats - is available from CEDaR. If you would like a copy please contact CEDaR with your name and address by email email@example.com or phone 028 9039 5264