Emo Court and Bats Soprano Pipistrelle Bat Leisler’s Bat

Brown Long-Eared Bat

Echolocation Reputation of Bats
Bats are the only flying mammals and are a very ancient species - they were flying at the time of dinosaurs 100 million years ago. Because they are flying mammals, they have slow rates of reproduction and Irish bats have only one baby per year, and they may not breed every year. A full-grown bat will weigh around 5 - 6 grams (or about the weight of a one Euro coin), and babies will weigh about one third of that.
Bats become active in spring, having hibernated in a winter roost from November onwards during which they wake up only during mild spells to eat or drink. They then congregate together in colonies, some of which are nursery or maternity roosts in which their babies are born. Bat "pups" are independent six to seven weeks after birth when they are able to catch sufficient insects for survival.
A bat may live to up to forty years or more, if fortunate, but most will die in their first year and the average age is four.
If it is necessary to pick up a bat, gloves should be worn or the bat should be wrapped in a tea towel or cloth, as bats can nip if frightened

Bat Detecting

Emo Court and bats
When the Dower House at Emo Court was to be renovated and turned into a Tea Rooms in 2006, the OPW commissioned surveys to establish the presence, species, and numbers of bats in residence. Of the ten species of bat known to breed in Ireland, three of these have been found at Emo Court: the soprano pipistrelle, Leisler's bat, and the brown long-eared bat.
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Photographs courtesy of Conor Kelleher,
Bat Conservation, Ireland
Soprano Pipistrelle Bat
This is one of Ireland's smallest bat species, and it gets its name from the very high pitch of its sounds. It is often found roosting in confined spaces in houses and occupies the under-roof space of the Dower House at Emo. The pipistrelle may eat as many as 3,500 midges and small insects in one night. In July 2006, during the survey, 357 soprano pipistrelle bats were counted emerging from the roost at the Dower House. In 2008, 426 were counted.
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Common Pipistrelle Bat
Leisler’s Bat
This is the largest of the Irish bats and usually one of the first to emerge at dusk. At Emo in July 2006, 205 Leisler's bats were observed leaving the roost in a cottage near the stables. As this bat is rare in Britain and Europe, this maternity roost is deemed to be of national, if not international, importance.

Leisler's Bat
Brown Long-Eared Bat
A further bat roost was observed in the basement of the main house during the survey, where approximately ten brown long-eared bats were noted in the cellars. The large ears of this bat are remarkable - almost as long as the body. The brown long-eared bat likes to eat larger prey such as moths as well as other insects.
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Brown Long-Eared Bat

Bats - contrary to a common expression - are not blind. They can see better than humans in low light levels such as that at dusk, but they also use echolocation - a sort of sonar - to find their way around. It is a sophisticated navigation system in which high-pitched squeaks are bounced off objects so that the bat can find its way. Using a bat detector, trained personnel can interpret the sonic emissions to help identify the species and even the activity of the bat.
Decrease in bat population
Bat populations have decreased in Europe generally due to intolerance and fear by the increasing human population and also due to habitat destruction and roost loss caused by modern building techniques. Very old houses, of the type where bats used to live in the attics in summer and cellars in winter, have either fallen down or been pulled down to make way for more up-to-date dwellings. Insecticides deplete their insect prey, and can also harm the bats themselves.

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Reputation of bats
Being nocturnal animals, bats have always been associated with the mysterious and the supernatural. Throughout history, bats have been portrayed as evil creatures and associated with witches and demons and black magic as it was not understood how they were able to fly in darkness. Bram Stoker added to this negative view by associating bats and vampires in his novel Dracula, and since the advent of Hollywood horror movies, their reputation has suffered further. However, bats should be viewed in a much more positive light today, as we now know that they are not flying mice, they don't get caught in hair and nor do they live in belfries. Furthermore, as the Bluetongue disease in sheep and cattle is spread by midges and flying insects (the staple diet of bats), bats should be encouraged and conserved.

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All Irish bats are protected and all are listed in the Red Data Book of Irish Vertebrates. It is an offence under the Wildlife Act (1976 and 2000) to intentionally kill, disturb or injure a bat.

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