Sunday 8 August 2021

Eight-gram bat flies 1200 miles only to be killed by a cat

A tiny, eight-gram bat, a female Nathusius' pipistrelle, flew from London to the village of Molgino in Russia's Pskov region on July 30. A journey of 1,200 miles. Sadly, the cat was found by a village resident after being injured by a cat. The bat was taken to a rescue organisation but failed to recover and died from the attack. It's a sad ending and it is not a good look for the domestic cat. It is the kind of opportunity which is seized upon by ornithologists and conservationists of native species to criticise the domestic cat and to argue the case for keeping them indoors full-time.

Nathusius' pipistrelle
 Nathusius' pipistrelle. Photo: BBC.

The bat had been ringed by a bat recorder, Brian Briggs, in 2016 at Bedfont Lakes Country Park near Heathrow airport in west London.

It was a great surprise to see that the bat had ended up 1,200 miles away. The Russians reported the finding to the UK's Bat Conservation Trust. Briggs said that the news was very exciting. He said: "It's great to be able to contribute to the international conservation work to protect these extraordinary animals."

It is the only record of this species of bat travelling this kind of distance from west to east. Most records concern males flying south-west from Latvia. The only other similar journey by this species of minuscule bat was in 2019 when one migrated from Latvia to Spain after a 1382-mile flight.

Experts say that the reason for the long flight is climate change and they expect more of the same in the future.

P.S. The bat is not a typical prey animal for the domestic cat. I suspect that the cat reacted to the bat's movement and attacked it. They decided it was inedible or even had no intention of feeding in any case. It was an instinctive response to the movements of a small animal.

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