Thursday, 10 May 2012

Bats about St Cuthbert's

'Can you come and get this bat out of our lightshade please?'  A strange but true start to a working day last week because this fully grown adult female pipistrelle bat did indeed manage to get itself trapped inside a light shade in one of St Cuthbert's College accommodation blocks.  

The most likely theory is that the bat got into the loft space above the light fitting, crawled through the small gap that the electricity cables pass through and ended up inside the shade unable to find its way out again.  The fully enclosed shade contained two light bulbs, permanently on, and so the bat was very hot, very dehydrated and emaciated.  Luckily, the University's energy saving policy meant that lower power energy efficient bulbs were fitted.  Had they been traditional light bulbs the bat would have been unlikely to survive the extra heat generated. So, our energy saving policy is good for bats as well as for the environment and the University bank balance.   After a few days in captivity, fed on a luxury diet of mealworms, the bat had recovered sufficiently to be released successfully.

Given that St Cuthbert is credited with introducing the first ever bird protection laws in the world when living the hermit's life on the Farne Islands in the late 600s, the great man would surely have been delighted to have a bat in his college.

Durham University estate and its buildings provide roost sites and feeding habitat for at least 6 of the 11 species of bat recorded in County Durham and as such we make a very significant contribution to the conservation and well-being of this declining and misunderstood group of animals.