UK Bats: The 17 Types of Bats Found in Britain

In the UK we have 18 species of bat. 17 of these species we know breed here.

This guide takes a quick look at each species.

1. Common Pipistrelle

As the name suggests, the Pipistrelle is the most common bat of British bats. Spread across the UK, these are the bat you’re most likely to see flying around your garden. They’re tiny too, weighing an average of only 5 grams but they eat up to 3,000 insects a night.

Scientific NamePipistrellus pipistrellus
Length3.5cm – 4.5cm
Wingspan20cm – 23.5cm
Weight3g – 8g
ColourMedium to dark brown body, even darker on the face
HabitatWoodland, farmland, grassland, urban areas
DietAquatic flies, mosquitos, invertebrates and midges

2. Soprano Pipistrelle

Almost identical to the Common Pipistrelle but has a higher frequency echolocation call.

Scientific NamePipistrellus pygmaeus
Length3.5cm – 4.5cm
Wingspan20cm – 23.5cm
Weight3g – 8g
ColourMedium to dark brown body, a little lighter on the face
HabitatWoodland, farmland, grassland, urban areas
DietAquatic flies, mosquitos, invertebrates and midges

3. Nathusius’ Pipistrelle

Once a migrant species and only classed as a resident species in 1997. The Nathusius’ Pipistrelle is rare in the UK although numbers have grown in recent years.

Scientific NamePipistrellus nathusii
Length4.6cm – 5.5cm
Wingspan22.8cm – 25cm
Weight6g -16g
ColourReddish-brown which is paler on the belly with dark ears nose and wings
HabitatFound in trees, wall crevices, rock fissures, and under soffit boards
DietAquatic flies, mosquitos, caddis flies and midges

4. Brown Long-Eared Bat

Their massive ears are almost as long as their body. This means they have exceptional hearing. You might see them feeding along hedgerows, in woodlands and gardens. They’re spread across the UK but they’re absent from Orkney and Shetland.

Scientific NamePlecotus auritus
Length3.7cm – 5.2cm
Wingspan23cm – 28.5cm
Weight6g -12g
ColourLight brown fur, pale underneath with a pink face
HabitatFound in older buildings, churches and barns
DietBeetles, earwigs, flies, moths and spiders

5. Grey Long-Eared Bat

Larger than its brown cousin, the Grey Long-Eared bat is much rarer. Confined to areas in southern England and forages over grasslands and meadows. It’s often difficult to tell the two apart.

Scientific NamePlecotus austriacus
Length4.1cm – 5.8cm
Wingspan25.5cm – 30cm
Weight7g -12g
ColourGrey-brown fur, pale underneath with a dark face
HabitatFound in older buildings, churches and barns
DietMoths, small beetles and craneflies

6. Greater Horseshoe Bat

One of the UK’s largest bats, the Greater Horseshoe bat has a big, fleshy nose that’s shaped like a horseshoe. Numbers of this species have fallen by more than 90%. You’ll only be lucky enough to see them in the south of Wales and southwest of England.

Scientific NameRhinolophus ferrumequinum
Length5.7cm – 7.1cm
Wingspan35cm – 40cm
Weight17g -34g
ColourLight brown with a pink face
HabitatOnce a cave dweller, now found in old buildings like churches and barns
DietChafer beetles, dung beetles, noctuid moths, craneflies and caddis flies

7. Lesser Horseshoe Bat

Unlike its bigger cousin, the Lesser Horseshoe bat can wrap its wings around its body at rest. It’s rare in the UK, confined to Wales, western England and western Ireland.

Scientific NameRhinolophus hipposideros
Length3.5cm – 4.5cm
Wingspan20cm – 25cm
Weight5g – 9g
ColourLight brown with a pink face
HabitatOnce a cave dweller, now found in old buildings like churches and barns
DietChafer beetles, dung beetles, noctuid moths, craneflies and caddis flies

8. Alcathoe Bat

Only confirmed as a resident species in 2010, the Alcatoe bat is the newest member of the UK bat family. It’s very similar to the Whiskered and Brandt’s bats and found at sites in the north and south of England. It was only discovered a species in 2001 so we know very little about it.

Scientific NameMyotis alcathoe
Length4cm – 5cm
Wingspan17cm – 20cm
Weight3.3g – 5.5g
ColourLight brown fur, paler underneath and light brown face
HabitatWoodland
DietMoths, midges and flies

9. Daubenton’s Bat

The Daubenton’s bat is also known as the ‘Water Bat’. It’s a coomon species spread across most of the UK. You’ll see them swooping down to the waters surface hunting for insects.

Scientific NameMyotis daubentonii
Length4.5cm – 5.5cm
Wingspan24cm – 27.5cm
Weight7g – 12g
ColourRed/brown fur with a pale underside and pink face
HabitatClose to fresh water in woodland and grassland
DietMidges mayflies and caddisflies

10. Barbastelle Bat

A rare bat that looks unlike any other with its large ears and flat, pug-like nose. If you’re lucky, you might see them hunting in wet woodland. But only in southern and central England and parts of Wales.

Scientific NameBarbastella barbastellus
Length4cm – 5.5cm
Wingspan26cm – 29cm
Weight6g – 13g
ColourDark brown fur with black or dark brown skin and face
HabitatWet, deciduous woodland and meadows
DietSmall moths, flies and beetles

11. Bechstein’s Bat

One of the UK’s rarest bats, found in southern Wales and parts of southern England. Destruction of ancient woodland has let huge a huge decline in numbers. In 2005, there were only 6 breeding populations.

Scientific NameMyotis bechsteinii
Length4.3cm – 5.3cm
Wingspan25cm – 30cm
Weight7g – 13g
ColourReddish-brown fur with pale grey belly and pink face
HabitatAncient woodlands
DietDung flies, nut weevils and grasshoppers

12. Brandt’s Bat

Almost identical the Whiskered bat. In fact the two species were only separated in 1970 with Brandt’s bat being a little larger. You’ll see them feeding close to the ground and near water throughout the UK.

Scientific NameMyotis brandtii
Length3.8cm – 5cm
Wingspan21cm – 24cm
Weight4.5g – 9.5g
ColourDark grey or brown fur, grey belly and pinkish face
HabitatOften found in old building with stone walls and slate roofs
DietMidgies, moths and flying insects

13. Leisler’s Bat

Also known as the ‘Hairy Armed Bat’. It’s a forest species which flies fast through the tree tops. You might see them around lamp posts, feeding on insects attracted to the light. They’re found across the UK except in the North of Scotland.

Scientific NameNyctalus leisleri
Length5cm – 7cm
Wingspan26cm – 32cm
Weight12g – 20g
ColourGolden-brown or reddish-brown fur which is longer over its shoulder
HabitatA forest species that roosts in trees but also new and old buildings
DietFlies, moths, caddis flies and beetles

14. Natterer’s Bat

The Natterer’s bat is found across the UK although it is scarce. It has broad wings and flies slowly, often taking prey in mid-flight. It can even snatch spiders from their webs.

Scientific NameMyotis nattereri
Length4cm – 5cm
Wingspan24.5cm – 30cm
Weight7g – 12g
ColourGrey-brown fur with white belly and pink face
HabitatOld stone buildings like castles and churches
DietSmall moths, caddis flies, midges, lacewings, small wasps and spiders

15. Noctule Bat

the noctule bat

The UK’s largest bat, the Noctule has long, narrow wings. It flies high and fast, often above the tree tops it takes most of its food one the wing. In urban areas, you might see them around lamp posts feeding on insects attracted to the light.

Scientific NameNyctalus noctula
Length3.7cm – 4.8cm
Wingspan32cm – 40cm
Weight18g – 40g
ColourGolden-brown fur with a light brown face
HabitatFound dwelling in trees and rock fissures
DietMoths, chafer beetles, dung beetles, mayflies and flying ants

16. Whiskered Bat

Almost idential to Brandt’s bat although a little smaller. It flies along regualr, familiar routes, feeding along hedgerows and the edges of woodland.

Scientific NameMyotis mystacinus
Length3.5cm – 4.8cm
Wingspan21cm – 24cm
Weight4g – 8g
ColourShaggy, dark grown or grey fur, grey underneath with a light brown face
HabitatFound in all kind of buildings with stone walls and slate roofs
DietMoths, midges and spiders

17. Serotine Bat

One of Britains largest bats, the Serotine has an almost leisurely flapping style. It’s also one of the first species to appear in the evening, often in good light before the sun starts to set. It’s not a common species but you’ll see it between south Wales and the Wash.

Scientific NameEptesicus serotinus
Length5.8cm – 8cm
Wingspan32cm – 18cm
Weight4g – 8g
ColourDark brown fur, pale underneath with dark face and ears
HabitatStone buildings with high gables and cavity walls
DietMoths, flies, dung beetles and chafers