October 23, 2021

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Tiny record-breaking ‘Olympic bat’ killed by cat at end of 1,200 mile journey

A tiny record-breaking “Olympic bat” flew more than 1,200 miles from London to Russia before being killed by a cat.

The female Nathusius’ pipistrelle bat, which weighed just 8g, was found on the ground after her 1,254-mile journey after being attacked by the feline.

She was rescued by a Russian bat rehabilitation group but later died.

The bat was discovered by Russian resident Svetlana Lapina in the small village of Molgino in the Pskov region.

The Nathusius’ pipistrelle was only as big as a human thumb and its wing was marked with a “London Zoo” ring.

It had been ringed in 2016 at Bedfont Lakes Country Park near Heathrow in London by bat recorder Brian Briggs.

Mr Briggs said: “This is very exciting. It’s great to be able to contribute to the international conservation work to protect these extraordinary animals and learn more about their fascinating lives.”

This journey marks one of the longest-known bat travels globally, the furthest known record from Britain across Europe and the only long distance movement recorded like this from west to east.

The majority of previous records have been males that have flown south-west from Latvia.

This achievement is topped by only one other bat in Europe: a Nathusius’ pipistrelle that migrated all the way from Latvia to Spain in 2019 in 1,381 miles.

Lisa Worledge, head of conservation services at the Bat Conservation Trust, said: “This is a remarkable journey and the longest one we know of any bat from Britain across Europe. What an Olympian!

“Her journey is an exciting scientific finding and another piece in the puzzle of bat migration.

“The movements of Nathusius’ pipistrelles around the UK and between the UK and the continent remain largely mysterious.”

The record is of interest to bat experts in Russia and the UK as the range expansion of the Nathusius’ pipistrelle is linked to climate change, due to its predicted impact on the future of the species. More information is essential to fully understand these effects.

There have been more than 2,600 Nathusius’ pipistrelles recorded in the UK since the National Nathusius’ Pipistrelle Project launched in 2014 to shed light on their breeding, distribution and migration behaviours.

Maternity colonies are known to exist in Kent, Northumberland, Surrey and Greater London.

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