On the 17th February and 10th March Arbtech’s Senior Consultant, Jo Gregory, co-delivered Bat Handling and ID Courses with members of her local bat group who are also ecological consultants; Gail Armstrong and Dave Marshall.
The course is the only one of its kind, providing ecological consultants and individuals involved in bat care, the opportunity to handle live bats to determine species, sex, age, breeding condition, and overall health of bats in the hand.
Both Gail Armstrong and Jo Gregory hold Natural England EPS Possession Licences to keep captive bats for educational purposes.
The course is a full day starting with presentations by Jo, Gail and Dave covering:
- Why you need to handle bats
- Bats and rabies*
- Lifestyle, anatomy and physiology of bats
- Bat Species Identification
Jo, Gail and Dave then provide a practical demonstration of handling techniques.
*All trainees are required to provide proof of their Rabies Vaccination in order to attend the course, although best practice of handling bats is taught on the course (i.e. the use of gloves).
After lunch the trainees are split into groups with three trainees per trainer and one-to-one instruction is given on the handling and ID techniques covered during the morning presentations.
The afternoon session is approximately 2 ½ hrs during which time trainee’s progress at their own pace in a relaxed environment with trainers on hand to assist whenever required. Trainees begin with learning how to safely bring a bat under basic control, and how to make the bat feel comfortable in the hand. They then progress to species identification working through the list of key features covered in the morning presentations.
By the end of the afternoon session trainees can confidently identify bats to species using key features such as: measuring forearm length, presence/absence of a post-calcarial lobe, ear shape and position, tragus shape and length, and wing venation in pipistrelle species. Trainees can also competently sex a bat and check for breeding condition, and successfully age bats as adult or juvenile via wing membrane condition and fused or opaque knuckles, fur colour etc.
All of these skills assist with determining roost type during ecological consultancy surveys e.g. when capturing bats in a hand net as they emerge from their roost these skills will enable to consultant to identify species, sex, age, breeding condition of the bat in the hand thereby confirming the presence of a maternity roost and/or satellite roost.
Trainees receive a course attendance certificate at the end of the day.