Picture by Manuel Ruedi CC-BY-SA-3.0
A very rare bat, Myotis alcathoe, has been discovered in the caves near Bradford on Avon where many species of bat swarm during the breeding season in early autumn.
The Alcathoe bat was only identified as a separate European species in 2001 and was not found to be resident in Britain until 2010. There was only one small confirmed breeding site, in SE England, but the female that was caught at the caves in Bradford on Avon last autumn was believed to have just finished breeding.
Wiltshire Bat Group, who trapped the unusual-looking bat, sent a faecal specimen for DNA analysis to Professor of Environmental Biology at Sussex University, Fiona Matthews. After positively identifying Myotis alcathoe, she said:
In my recent report with the Mammal Society A Review of the Population and Conservation Status of British Mammals – JP025, I classified it as one of the species in most urgent need of research. We quite literally know almost nothing about it.”
This is exciting news for Wiltshire, already home to breeding colonies of the very rare Bechstein bats.