Wednesday, April 7, 2010


On a summer's evening it's wonderful to watch the Pipistrelle bats flying to and fro in the local it's a real treat to see them close up in the hand. This is a Common Pipistrelle bat rescued locally by Bob - a licensed handler - before being released yesterday evening. It was only in 2003 that the Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) was officially separated from what became known as the Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), chiefly on the differing frequency of their calls: the Common Pip averaging about 45 KHz and the Soprano Pip, a little higher at about 55 KHz.

There are subtle physical differences. The Common Pip tends to be a mite larger, and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Bandit Pipistrelle’ because of the ‘bandit mask’ on its face (better seen on the first image), though this isn’t always as obvious as it is on this individual and there is a lot of overlap.

You can’t see it very well on this photo, but one of the features of the Common Pipistrelle over against the Soprano Pipistrelle is that the fur tends to be darker towards the base of the hairs, whereas it is fairly uniform in the Soprano Pip. Other differences include the fact that Soprano Pips tend to be more rural, as opposed to urban, and like one another’s company: summer maternity roosts regularly comprise several hundred individuals!

There is another difference, too. When I got home I realised that I’d forgotten to smell the bat. It shouldn’t have had a distinctive odour, but the Soprano Pip definitely does: ‘…something between chicken flavour crisps, curry & bacon’ according to one source!!

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