long-eared bat photographed at Bincliffe Mines,
Staffordshire 1985. Image and copyright owned by
The brown long-eared bat is
Britain's second most widespread bat species (after the pipistrelle) and its most
distinctive characteristic are its huge ears
which can be held erect or can be curled back or tucked away. They are usually
seen flying around open deciduous woods, parkland and gardens where they feed by taking
insects from the air or by plucking them from vegetation. Moths are the bat's
main prey, although flies, spiders and beetles are also eaten, and large meals
are often taken to a perch to be consumed rather than eating on the wing. They
are sometime known as whispering bats because they echolocate very quietly and
can be difficult to pick up on a bat detector. Brown long-eared bats are known
to land on the ground to catch prey and this habitat can make them vulnerable to
domestic cats who often catch and injure or kill bats.
Brown long-eared's roost in trees, old buildings with open roof spaces and bat
boxes and in the summer the females form maternity roosts in which each gives
birth to a single young. These maternity roosts are unusual in that male bats
are sometimes present. During the winter they hibernate in trees, buildings,
caves, tunnels and ice houses and tend to choose places were the temperature is
quite low (typically a few degrees above freezing).
There are several hundred records of brown long-eared bats in Staffordshire
spanning 1910 - 2002 from a wide variety of locations across the county.