Friday, 28 September 2012

Britain's Rarest Bat Found in East Devon

Grey Long-Eared Bat
Source: Cosmos Magazine
Bats are pretty cool. They can fly. They can use sonar. There are more than 1000 different species of bat in the world - some of whom are essential seed distributors for the rain forest. And the can sleep upside down! Exeter, with it's old churches, roman wall, rivers, marshes and forest is lucky enough to have a bat population that is visible and welcome. You need only take an evening stroll on the quayside to spot some balletic bats catching their supper in the dull light of the evening. Exeter and Devon's bats are even appreciated by local councils who lead educational walks to teach us more about our furry flying friends.

It was in on one such educational walk, hosted by East Devon Council's Wet & Wild Weekend in Axminster, University of Exeter scientist, Dr Fiona Matthews discovered one of Britain's rarest bats: the Grey Long-Eared Bat. Dr. Matthews from Exeter University's Biosciences team said she was please to have come across such a rare discovery at a public event, “I immediately suspected that this was a Grey long-eared bat, and to share the excitement with so many people at a public event was fantastic. Because it looks rather similar to its common cousin, the Brown long-eared, we had to get genetic confirmation that it really was the are species."

The newly discovered bat has now been tagged for further research and is thought to be part of an Axminster roost that adds to only six other known Grey Long-Eared Bat colonies in the UK.

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