Bats

Bats are the only true flying mammals. Like us, they are warm-blooded, give birth and suckle their young. They are intelligent and have a complex social life.

In Britain their are 16 or 17 species, all of which are small (most weigh less than a £1 coin) and eat insects. Bats have evolved a number of unusual features, mainly connected with their ability to fly. Their wings are formed from a web of highly elastic skin stretched over greatly elongated finger bones, the legs and tail, though their thumbs remain free to help them cling on when roosting.

Bats have developed a highly sophisticated echolocation sense that allows them to avoid obstacles and catch tiny insects, even in complete darkness.

Legislation

The following information is intended as general guidance on the law relating to bats and is not comprehensive.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) transposes into UK law the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. The 1981 Act has been amended several times, most recently by the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000, which added 'or recklessly' to S9 (4)(a) and (b).  All species of bats are listed on Schedule 5 of the 1981 Act, and therefore subject to the provisions of Section 9, which make it an offence to:

  • intentionally kill, injure or take a bat (Section 9(1))
  • possess or control any live or dead specimen or anything derived from a bat (S 9(2))
  • intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place used for shelter or protection by a bat (S 9(4)(a))
  • intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat while it is occupying a structure or place which it uses for that purpose (S9(4)(b)

 

Bats are an endangered species. If you have problems associated with bats, please contact Natural England (details below), or call the Bat Conservation Trust helpline on 0845 1300 228.

Natural England
Block B, Government Buildings
Whittington Road
Worcester
WR5 2LQ
Tel: 0300 060 6000
Email: enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk


Snakes

Grass snakes

Britain's largest snake, reaching 70-120 cm in length can be found in southern Britain often close to water. They are non-venomous, grey/green in colour (sometimes with black spots) and a yellow/cream/orange band around the neck. A black line runs from the eye to the mouth and the underside is usually white or pale yellow with a checkered effect. They are active during the day and bask in the sun to warm up. They hibernate from October to April and have been found sleeping in compost heaps.

Adders

Britain's only venomous snake. They are widespread throughout mainland Britain and are able to survive extremely harsh conditions. They are the most frequently sighted in Britain and are becoming increasingly common in open woodland, hedgerows, moorland, sand dunes, riverbanks and bogs. They are active during the day and bask on rocks until their body temperature is high enough to hunt.

Most adders have a distinctive dark zigzag marking down the length of their back, and an inverted 'V' shape on their neck. They are generally white/pale grey/pale brown. They use their camouflage to hide and retreat into the undergrowth if they feel they are being approached. Adders very rarely attack however, if bitten, medical attention should be sought immediately. Fortunately, advances in medical care and treatment of bites has reduced the danger they pose.

Slow worms

Slow worms are often mistaken for snakes but are in fact a form of legless lizard. They are fairly common throughout Britain and can be up to 30 cm long with a cylindrical body and a pointed head. Their scales are very small giving the appearance of a metallic sheen to their brown, gold or beige colour.

All British snakes are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 from being killed, injured or sold. If you encounter a snake within your property, please contact please contact Natural England.

Natural England
Block B, Government Buildings
Whittington Road
Worcester
WR5 2LQ
Tel: 0300 060 6000
Email: enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk

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