No need to go batty over bats

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Q We have seen a house we really like, but apparently it has bats in the roofspace. Advice please!

A Bat populations in the UK have declined dramatically during the past century. Many roosting sites and feeding grounds have been destroyed, while pesticides have not only killed much of their insect prey, but also some of the bats themselves.

The net result of this decline is that all British bats and their roosts are now protected by law. This means you will be committing a criminal offence if you: deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat, disturb bats in their roost damage or destroy a bat roosting place (even if it is unoccupied at the time), or if you obstruct access to a bat roost.

In other words, if there really are bats roosting in the house you have found, then you either forget it and look elsewhere, or you go ahead and make the best of things.

This is not such a stark choice as it might sound. The fact is, bats have quite a lot going for them. Indeed, many people regard having a roost in their loft space as something of a privilege, and go to considerable lengths to make their small furry guests as welcome as possible!

Bats are clean and sociable animals. They are not rodents, and will not nibble or gnaw at wood, wires or insulation. They don’t build nests either, so they don’t bring bedding material into the roost. Most bats are seasonal visitors to buildings, so they are unlikely to live in the same place all year round – although, that said, they do tend to return to the same roosts year after year.

Female bats usually have one baby a year, so properties do not become ‘infested’. Finally, all bats in the UK eat insects – so they are actually a great form of natural pest control! However, on the other side of the equation, having bats in your home can have serious implications for any building or remedial work you may want to have done. At the end of the day, of course, it’s your decision whether to buy a house with bats in it or not. If you want to know more, you can always call the Bat Conservation Trust.

They even have a Bat Helpline: 0845 1300 228