Bats in Sussex

There are 18 species of bat in the UK, all of which have been recorded in Sussex. Some are resident in Sussex, while others turn up occasionally or at certain times of the year.

Common Name
Latin Name
Status in Sussex
Status in UK
Barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus Very rare, widespread Very rare, widespread E/W
Serotine Eptesicus serotinus Uncommon, widespread Uncommon, widespread, southern E
Alcathoe whiskered bat
Myotis alcathoe Very rare – hardly known Only recently recognised in UK
Bechstein’s Myotis bechsteinii Very rare Very rare, southern
Brandt’s Myotis brandtii Scarce, widespread
Widespread, scarce E/W
Daubenton’s Myotis daubentonii Fairly abundant, widespread
Widespread, fairly abundant
Greater mouse-eared Myotis myotis Very rare (currently only one individual) Very rare (currently only one individual)
Whiskered Myotis mystacinus Scarce, widespread Scarce, widespread, not S
Natterer’s Myotis nattereri Scarce, widespread Scarce, widespread
Leisler’s Nyctalus leisleri Rarely recorded Scarce but widespread to southern S
Noctule Nyctalus noctula Uncommon, widespread Uncommon, widespread, not S
Nathusius’s pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii Scarce, widespread Scarce, widespread, includes migrants

Common pipistrelle

Pipistrellus pipistrellus Abundant, widespread Widespread, abundant
Soprano pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus Fairly common, widespread Fairly common, widespread
Brown long-eared Plecotus auritus Relatively abundant, widespread
Widespread, relatively abundant
Grey long-eared Plecotus austriacus Rare, south coast areas Rare, mainly southern coastal areas
Greater horseshoe Rhinolophus ferrumequinum Very rare Very rare, in SW (E, W)
Lesser horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros One record Rare, mainly SW E and W

E = England  W = Wales  S = Scotland


Three other bat species have been recorded in Sussex as vagrants:
Savi’s pipistrelle (Hypsugo savii), Kuhl's pipistrelle (Pipistrellus kuhlii), parti-coloured bat (Vespertilio murinus) and Geoffroy's bat (Myotis emarginatus).
Information sheets on each of the species can be found on the Bat Conservation Trust website

Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight. Those found in the UK feed exclusively on insects and use a sophisticated form of sonar to navigate and catch their prey at night. In late spring and summer, female bats form maternity colonies to raise their young. This is when they are most obvious to us, as they leave the roost at or after sunset in search of food.

Bats hibernate during the winter when insects are scarce, usually at a different site to the maternity roost where a constant cool temperature can be found i.e. in underground sites or within deep crevices in trees or buildings. Bats return to the same roost sites every year, so even if the animals themselves are not present, the roost is still legally protected.

Unfortunately there are many misconceptions about bats. They are in fact sociable, intelligent, clean animals that rarely come into contact with humans. They do not build nests and very rarely cause structural damage to buildings.