Earliest bats at Bodiam Castle

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The earliest ever recorded wild baby bats in the UK have been born at the National Trust’s Bodiam Castle.

Four baby Daubenton’s bats were discovered last week by licensed bat experts Roger Jones and Sally-Ann Hurrey, in roost in the gatehouse of the 14th century castle.

It was estimated from their size they were already several days old, putting the date of birth for the earliest recorded wild bat born in the UK as early as May 16.

Bats are regularly born earlier than usual at Bodiam due to the good nature of the site, but this is the first time records have been broken, not only for the first births of the year but the earliest.

Previous earliest babies at Bodiam Castle were born on May 30, 2012. This is put down to the warm weather as fertilisation is activated by weather and food sources.

Volunteers who count the Castle colony think it is the biggest Daubenton’s bat roost in the south east. Numbers vary year to year. On average there are over 200 Daubenton’s bats, with 321 recorded in 2012.

Castle bat carer Karen Hammond said: “We’re delighted to have the earliest ever recorded bat births. We take great pride in our colony and ensure it’s a safe environment. The maternity roost is away from the public and monitored to ensure bats are not disturbed. However, visitors can often hear them chattering and sometimes a wandering baby bat does have to be returned home.”