Bats go batty about their secret Seaton home

The new purpose-built home for bats at Seaton. Picture: Devon Wildlife Trust

The new purpose-built home for bats at Seaton. Picture: Devon Wildlife Trust - Credit: Archant

A new home for bats, at a secret location near Seaton, has seen its first residents move in just days after its completion.

A Greater Horshoe Bat. Picture Mike Symes

A Greater Horshoe Bat. Picture Mike Symes - Credit: Archant

The unusual des-res was constructed after another long-term roost used by bats nearby fell into disrepair.

Experts had expected the bats would take some time to discover and use the new purpose-built facility but were delighted when, in matter of days, they were found to have been there.

The new building was constructed in the summer with the help of local volunteers.

It was funded by East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project, which is led by the charity Devon Wildlife Trust.

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The location of the new building was chosen because of its proximity to two existing colonies of greater horseshoe bats, one of the UK's rarest and most threatened bat species.

The building was constructed from brick, with timber cladding and a slate roof.

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It was made to look as if it were just another agricultural building but contains a series of adaptations including special bat entrances and roosting chambers.

Although specifically designed for greater horseshoe bats, the purpose-built roost can also accommodate other bat species.

Ruth Testa leads the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project. She said: "It's amazing that greater horseshoe bats have found the roost almost as soon as we finished it.

"We now hope that they start to use the building regularly and that in time they may start to use it for raising their young.

"We thought that it would take them time to discover it, but to have them here so quickly shows that there is a need for roost spaces in this landscape."

Pete Youngman, project officer at East Devon AONB, said: "This new purpose-built facility is great news as it means that the bats now have a secure roost away from any lighting or disturbance. It is located in ideal habitat which will mean they will be able to increase in number."

The greater horseshoe bat can be found across Europe, Northern Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Asia. It is notable as having the oldest recorded age for any European bat, with one of them living for more than 30 years.

To find out more, visit the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project website.

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