Vertebrate species: mammals


1323 Bechstein`s bat    Myotis bechsteinii   
   Follow link for UK biodiversity information on this species.

Background to selection

Distribution of SACs with species 1323 Myotis bechsteinii.  Click image for enlarged map.
Distribution of SACs with species 1323 Myotis bechsteinii. Click image for enlarged map.

Description and ecological characteristics

 

Bechstein’s bat Myotis bechsteinii is a medium-sized species, with very long ears and a long, pointed, bare, pink face. It has shaggy light-to reddish-brown fur on its back and contrasting greyish white-tipped fur on its underside. The species is closely associated with mature deciduous woodland and appears to select old woodpecker holes or rot holes in trees for breeding. It also occurs in coniferous woodland in some areas. Maternity colonies may move between suitable crevices within a small area, such as a piece of woodland. It is believed to hibernate in hollow trees and sometimes in underground localities.

European status and distribution

 

Bechstein’s bat Myotis bechsteinii is one of the rarest bats in western Europe, and is regarded as endangered in several countries. A population decrease has been reported over most of its European range. The species occurs from the Iberian peninsula east to the Ukraine and Moldova. Local populations in southern England, Wales, southern Sweden and Bornholm mark the northern border of the range.

UK status and distribution Click to view UK distribution of this species

 

Bechstein’s bat Myotis bechsteinii is one of the UK’s rarest mammals, recorded from only a small number of sites in southern England and Wales. Very few maternity roosts are currently known, one of which is in a bat-box. The great majority of other records come from caves or abandoned mines, which are important hibernation sites for a range of bat species.

Site selection rationale

 

In recent years a small number of maternity sites for Bechstein’s bats Myotis bechsteinii have been discovered, and these have all been selected. In addition, a hibernation site with a long history of records of small numbers of the species has also been included as an example of this sort of habitat.

 

While the SAC series makes a contribution to securing favourable conservation status for this Annex II species, wider measures are also necessary to support its conservation in the UK (see the Species Action Plan).


Site accounts

Bath and Bradford-on-Avon Bats Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area
Small numbers of Bechstein’s bats Myotis bechsteinii have been recorded hibernating in abandoned mines in this area, though maternity sites remain unknown.
Beer Quarry and Caves Devon
This complex of abandoned mines in south-west England is regularly used as a hibernation site by small numbers of Bechstein’s bat Myotis bechsteinii as well as an important assemblage of other bat species.
Bracket`s Coppice Dorset and Somerset
One of the first maternity colonies of Bechstein’s bat Myotis bechsteinii was discovered using bat-boxes in this small woodland.
Briddlesford Copses Hampshire and Isle of Wight
The Briddlesford Copse complex of woodlands represents the most varied, structurally diverse and species-rich cluster of ancient broadleaved woodland on the Isle of Wight and supports an important breeding population of the rare Bechstein’s bat Myotis bechsteinii. The bats use holes and crevices in mature trees for roosting and the interconnecting woodlands for feeding.
Chilmark Quarries Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area
This complex of abandoned mines in central-southern England, is regularly used as a hibernation site by small numbers of Bechstein’s bat Myotis bechsteinii. The site also contains a nationally important assemblage of other bats, including 1308 barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus, for which this site has also been selected, indicating that conditions are particularly favourable for the survival of these bat species.
Ebernoe Common Surrey, East and West Sussex
A maternity colony of Bechstein’s bat Myotis bechsteinii is associated with this area of 91A0 Old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum in the British Isles. Roosts are mainly in old woodpecker holes in the stems of live mature oak Quercus petraea trees.

SACs where this Annex II species is a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

Exmoor and Quantock Oakwoods Devon, Dorset and Somerset
Mole Gap to Reigate Escarpment Surrey, East and West Sussex
Singleton and Cocking Tunnels Surrey, East and West Sussex
 

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