Dr Sarah Yarwood-Lovett, Principal Ecologist at The Ecology Consultancy, recently delivered a presentation on British Bats to a junior school near Maidenhead. The purpose of the presentation was to explain to the children the importance of protecting and conserving our precious and valuable bats.
The first part of Sarah’s talk highlighted the diversity within our 18 species of bats in Britain, as well as some impressive facts about bats, their behaviour and life-cycle. The children were especially impressed by bat abilities such as echolocation and being able to smell water. This then prompted many interesting stories and queries they had about bats, such as……do bats suck blood?
Following the talk the children were invited in groups to observe some rescued bats Sarah had brought to the school from the Sussex Bat Hospital. The children had lively enthusiasm to see the bats up close, as some expressed their interest to have them as pets!
Later in the session, the children were encouraged to participate in a special field test designed to identify field signs. The ‘squidge test’ is conducted by rubbing the dropping between a thumb and forefinger, bat droppings will crumble whilst rodent droppings squidge. The children were keen to have a go at this themselves (gloves and hand sanitiser provided) and they all successfully identified the bat droppings!
Sarah is a registered bat rescuer and carer for the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT). She says, “I care for between 10 and 30 bats per year, a really small number compared to those being treated in bat hospitals around the country. Members of the public will find injured bats and call the BCT helpline (0845 1300 228). Most of these bats are nursed back to health and are released, but those that can’t become the stars of talks such as these”.