Latin name: Pipistrellus pipistrellus
Length: 3.5 - 4.5cm (body) Wingspan: 19 - 25cm
Weight: 3 - 8g
Where: Balmaha Visitor Centre; Milarrochy Bay Building; most wooded roadways in the park
If you see a bat flitting around a street light or dodging in and out of the moonlit trees at dusk it's likely to be a pipistrelle. These tiny animal-dynamos – the smallest bats in Europe – weigh the same as a teaspoon of sugar. Yet dipping and darting through the air on their tissue-thin wings they can catch up to 3000 moths, gnats and other insects in a night.
In winter they hibernate in buildings, caves and hollow trees because insects are hard to come by. They usually emerge in April to catch the first of their newly-hatched prey. Although they prefer to fly at dusk you can sometimes catch sight of them during the day in quiet woodland glades.
Scientists have recently discovered that pipistrelle bats are actually divided into two species. The newly discovered species is slightly smaller than our common pipistrelle and sends out its echo-location sounds at a slightly higher frequency. They have called it the soprano pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), because of this.
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