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Bats With their powers of flight, bats have been able to colonise the islands over the years, and currently number eight breeding species . Most of the bats require sheltered areas out of the prevailing winds in which to forage at night for flying insects, and many species are therefore restricted mostly to areas with intact forest structure close to roost sites . Populations of many species would have declined as the original forest cover was lost . Seven species of bat breed on the Canary Islands, while just three species occur on Madeira . However, bat distribution is uneven on the Canaries, showing higher diversity on the wetter and more heavily vegetatedWestern and Central Canaries, while only one species, the widespread Kuhl’s Pipistrelle, breeds on Fuerteventura . The Canary Big-eared Bat is endemic to theWestern and Central Canaries, the Madeira Lesser Noctule is an endemic subspecies on Madeira, and the Barbastelle has an endemic subspecies on La Gomera andTenerife .The Atlantic Islands Pipistrelle occurs on both island groups and is found elsewhere only on the Azores . One further species, the Egyptian Fruit Bat, was accidentally introduced toTenerife, where it caused problems for native fauna and flora, so was the subject of an eradication programme and is believed to have been extirpated by 2016 . Some of the commoner bats may be encountered feeding around outside lights in built-up areas, but many of the bats are rarely seen and remain poorly known . Population sizes of many of the bats are thought to be small and at risk from loss of roosting and feeding habitat and, in particular, overuse of pesticides . For those wanting to see more bats, it is worth joining a professionally organised tour to observe bats emerging from known roost sites . 3 European Free-tailed Bat L 14cm including tail of 5cm |WS 45cm This large bat occurs on all the Western and Central Canaries, and there is one old record from Madeira. It is widespread in all habitat zones from the coast to the high mountains on most of the islands where it occurs but is rather localised on Gran Canaria. The flight is fast and direct on long narrow wings, usually at great height, as it hunts over both natural and man-made habitats. It is easily picked up by its regular penetrating sick, sick call. This is the largest naturally occurring bat on the islands. It has large, broad forward-pointing ears and a long fleshy tail, of which the final third is unattached by membranes. The long muzzle has distinctive wrinkling around the lips – hence the alternative names of mastiff or bulldog bat. It is a rather dark bat, with black wings, tail membranes and ears and dark grey fur above, although it is paler grey below. This is generally a solitary bat, hiding in both natural and man-made rock crevices during the day, although small groups of females will gather to nurse their young. Sheep | Bats 159 3 1 Canary Big-eared Bat L 8cmincluding tail of 3·5cm |WS 25–29cm ENDEMICTO WESTERN AND CENTRAL CANARIES This rare and endangered midsize bat is endemic to La Palma, El Hierro and Tenerife in the Canaries but may also occur on La Gomera, where much suitable habitat exists. It inhabits coniferous and mixed woodlands between 100m and 2,300m elevation and roosts in abandoned buildings as well as in caves and lava tubes. It feeds at night on moths in well-wooded areas. Numbers have declined at the only two known colonies, dropping by 80% at the largest colony, the Cuevas de los Murciélagos on La Palma, in recent years, perhaps as a result of disturbance. The total population is thought to number between 500 and 2,000 individuals, and the species is threatened by the use of pesticides and loss of roosting habitat. Summer colonies consist of up to 30 females, while winter clusters are small, consisting of 1–10 animals. This is a moderately large bat with very broad, long ears, mid-brown fur above and paler fur below. E EN 2 Grey Long-eared Bat L 9cm including tail of 4·5cm |WS 23–30cm This midsize long-eared bat occurs on Madeira and has also been observed on the Desertas Islands. It remains a poorly known and possibly endangered bat on the islands, although it is widespread and common in mainland Europe. It inhabits buildings and caves close to open cultivated land and is thought to avoid dense woodland, although it...


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