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Rare grey long-eared bat in our care


Grey long-eared bat with ears fully extended laying on a towel © RSPCA

One of our dedicated workers is providing round-the-clock care to a bat, thought to be one of the rarest mammals in England. 

Merri, believed to be a grey long-eared bat, was rescued by us on Monday (14 August) after being found grounded in Merriott, Somerset.

She was taken in by our West Hatch Wildlife Centre, in nearby Taunton, where staff member and bat expert India Long has taken the tiny five gram mammal under her wing.

Lucky to be alive

She said:

When she came in she was really close to death, it’s amazing that she’s still alive.

She’s about the size of a ping pong ball and weighs only five grams which is about two grams less than she should. There are signs she would still have been dependent on her mother and we don’t believe she’d have survived if left.

The bat also had a nasty injury to her foot meaning she’s struggling to use it.

India - a bat carer and wildlife assistant at West Hatch - has been caring for the tiny creature round the clock, at first giving fluids every two hours and now feeding her three times a day to slowly build up her strength.

She was very excited to have a grey long-eared bat in her care.

A rare find

India adds:

It’s so difficult to tell grey long-eared bats apart from brown long-eared bats, which are much more common, but I’ve spoken to a number of different bat experts all of whom believe she looks like a grey bat.

We’ve sent a fecal sample off for DNA testing so we can be sure and can then ensure further rehabilitation is appropriate for her.

There’s so little known about grey long-eared bats and there’s thought to be only around 1,000 of them in this country.

They’re one of the rarest bats in England and among the rarest mammals.

India will continue to care for the grey long-eared bat before working with the Somerset Bat Group to facilitate her eventual release.

India said:

She’s doing a little better now but isn’t out of the woods yet

I really hope we are able to get her back to full health so we can release her back into the wild, where she belongs.

So far this year, we've taken in 163 bats who'd been found grounded, injured, tangled in netting or having been attacked by another animal. Merri is the only grey long-eared bat taken in by us in 2017, with most rescues involving common pipistrelle bats (109) and 19 rescues of Mary’s lookalike - the brown long-eared bat.

Facts about grey long-eared bats

  • Grey long-eared bat colonies are only found in Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Somerset and Sussex in England
  • Although widespread in southern Europe, they're very rare in England
  • Their ears are nearly as long as their body but aren’t always obvious - when resting they curl their ears back or tuck them away under their wings
  • They eat moths, small beetles and crane flies
  • They emerge at night and forage in open spaces, catching prey in flight

Help our wildlife rehabilitation work

We can only rescue and rehabilitate animals like Merri with your help. If you would like to support our vital work please donate what you can online or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3

(Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message. Text to donate terms and conditions).

Take a look at our pages for advice on what do with an injured animal.

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