Dear readers and bat enthusiasts!

Today, on December 6th, 2017, the Lilieci.ro portal celebrates 1 year of activity. During this time we have achieved many things together, and we hope that we will continue at this pace. To celebrate this anniversary, we invite you to take part in choosing the “Bat of the year 2018” in Romania.

This designation exists in several European countries, and is based on the importance of the bat species for our environment, or on its research aspects. Sometimes the species is designated due to cross-border links, such as seasonal migration, that does not take into account classical boundaries. At the same time, the designation has a role in raising awareness about the species among the general public. Public involvement is essential in protecting bats and the environment, and the chance to choose freely, to vote for a favorite is a universal necessity.

In 2017, we jointly given the title of “Bat of the year” to the brown long-eared bat. In November 2017 there was a simple debate and a pre-selection within the community of bats experts from Romania, where we agreed on three species of bats (out of a total of 32). They became the three finalists for this second edition of the competition. They are:

The common pipistrelle

Who can easily fit in a matchbox, but can rival a giant in appetite

The large Myotis

Who goes quite often to church, but who’s colonies are threatened

Méhely’s horseshoe bat

Typical for caves, rare and vulnerable, with less than 1.000 bats in Romania

The contest runs until January 26, 2018, at 24:00, when, based on the votes cast to each finalist, we will jointly designate the winner of the title “Bat of the Year 2018”. And throughout 2018 we will focus our efforts on presenting to you as much as possible about the winning species.

Below you have the voting box, and below that are detailed pictures and descriptions of the three species. We invite you to first read about the three finalists, and then vote for your favorite. And share this page with others, along with your opinion!

After the vote, stay and explore the content of the portal, and to support the Lilieci.ro initiative, you can make a donation! Thank you!

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Note: Below you will also see photos where bats are handled without gloves. The pictures are only illustrative, and the specimens are being handled by high-skilled bats researchers. Generally, it is recommended that bats are handled only using gloves. We also have an article about what and how to do around bats.

Select your favorite and vote it “Bat of the year” in 2018!

The Pipistrelle

Who can easily fit in a matchbox, but can rival a giant in appetite

It’s not a joke: the pipistrelle can fit into a matchbox. And it’s a species that can be quite common in urban areas, colonies using spaces between building elements, or even the casing of windows. Hundreds of bats can roost in very small spaces. And when they fly out to hunt insects, night after night, they show their huge appetite. A single pipistrelle can eat 2,000 mosquitoes in a single night, or even more!

Pipistrelles are small in size, about the size of your thumb. Their fur is brown, the ears and nose are blackish. They are quite common, adapting well to the urban environment. Nursery colonies use hollow trees in the summer, or even cracks below tress barks, and also lofts of buildings. In the winter period they hibernatee in wall cracks, caves or other underground roosts. In Romania the species forms some of the largest hibernation colonies in Europe, which like living carpets on the ceiling of caves number thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of bats.

Photo gallery:

Due to the fact that pipistrelles are common in the urban environment, they can often get into direct conflicts with people, tenants and building owners. The intentional or uninformed destruction of roosts endangers the species. Similarly, another threat factor is the excessive use of insecticides, which, through the food sources of the species, ends up in their metabolism and can lead to increased mortality. The huge colonies in caves (ex. in Romanian caves) are threatened by speoturism in the critical seasons. A responsible tourism is recommended, meaning the avoidance of speleological tourism during the winter period (November 1 – March 31).

Conservation:

  • IUCN global: LC (least concern)
  • Global trend: stabile
  • IUCN Europe: LC (least concern)
  • European trend: unknown

Legislation:

  • Law 13/1993 (Bern Convention): Annex II
  • Law 13/1998 (Bonn Convention): Annex II
  • Law 90/2000 (EUROBATS): included
  • Law 49/2011 (Habitats Directive): Annex IV

The Large Myotis

Who goes quite often to church, but who’s colonies are threantened

We have to confess something to you: the large Myotis is not a bat species. “Large Myotis” actually denotes two species: the greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis) and the lesser mouse-eared bat (Myotis blythii = M. oxygnathus). These two species are so similar that only researchers can differentiate them with certainty. They are often called “twin species”. And there are a number of reasons why we chose to present these two species as one: the large Myotis.

Both species are similar in size, large and robust (hence their common name of “large Myotis”), being among the largest species of bats in Romania. Both have long and wide muzzles and long ears, although not as long as the bat of the year in 2017. Throughout the year, large Myotis use similar roosts both in summer and winter. They often form mixed colonies, with specimens from both species present. Summer roosts are usually in lofts or towers of buildings often with high temperatures (of over 30 degrees), and they particularly like churches. In Romania we also know numerous nursery colonies in caves. During the winter we encounter them most often in caves, where they can either hibernate solitary, or form groups of different sizes, from a few dozen to several hundred bats.

Photo gallery:

Large Myotis are vulnerable species whose known populations have declined over the past two decades. Nursery colonies in the spacious lofts of representative buildings (churches, mansions, etc.) are significantly affected by renovations that do not take account of the principles of bat conservation. By concentrating populations (respectively females and pups of the next generation) in a few roosts, whole populations depend only on the attitude of people or entities that perform the renovation of these buildings. This despite the fact that there are a number of methods that allow both for the protection of buildings and that of colonies. Speotourism in caves of chiropterological importance, respectively in critical seasons can negatively affect colonies. Hence, the principles of responsible cave tourism must be applied.

Conservation (Myotis myotis):

  • IUCN global: LC (least concern)
  • Global trend: stabile
  • IUCN Europe: LC (least concern)
  • European trend: stabile

Conservation (Myotis blythii):

  • IUCN global: LC (least concern)
  • Global trend: decreasing
  • IUCN Europe: NT (near threatened)
  • European trend: decreasing

Legislation (Myotis myotis, M. blythii = M. oxygnathus):

  • Law 13/1993 (Bern Convention): Annex II
  • Law 13/1998 (Bonn Convention): Annex II
  • Law 90/2000 (EUROBATS): included
  • Law 49/2011 (Habitats Directive): Annex II și IV
  • MO 656/2014: included

Note: IUCN status does not always reflect the current situation. In the case of large Myotis in Romania there is a strong decrease in the size of populations, especially in colonies from anthropic shelters, buildings, church, bridges, etc.

Méhely’s horseshoe bat

Typical for caves, rare and vulnerable, with less than 1.000 bats in Romania

Méhely’s horseshoe bat is one of five Rhinolophus species of Romania, and one of the three medium-sized Rhinolophus species. It can be identified based on the nasal formations, which are typical of these species, and through which they emit ultrasounds. An exclusive and sensitive cave-dweller, the species depends largely on intact and protected karstic areas.

The species can be rarely seen, and exclusively in caves or other underground shelters (ex. mines, bunkers). It hunts in a variety of habitats, from deciduous forests, steppe areas, pastures, sometimes farmland, and shows a clear preference for open habitats.

Photo gallery:

In Romania there were large colonies (thousands of specimens) of R. mehelyi in Dobrogea in the past, but these have been significantly reduced in the present days (a few colonies of dozens of bats), due to the expansion of agricultural areas and the use of insecticides. Although new colonies and distribution areas have recently been discovered, the preferred habitats of the species (deciduous forests, steppe areas, etc.) remain threatened. The species, being very sensitive, can be affected by the disturbance and degradation of underground roosts, but also by the loss of feeding habitats (pastures, meadows). The total European population is around 50,000 bats, while the Romania population is likely to be less than 1,000 bats.

Conservation:

  • IUCN global: VU (vulnerable)
  • Global trend: decreasing
  • IUCN Europe: VU (vulnerable)
  • European trend: decreasing

Legislation:

  • Law 13/1993 (Bern Convention): Annex II
  • Law 13/1998 (Bonn Convention): Annex II
  • Law 90/2000 (EUROBATS): included
  • Law 49/2011 (Habitats Directive): Annex II, IV
2 replies
    • Lilieci.ro
      Lilieci.ro says:

      Thank you, Patricia, and you are absolutely right: all bat species are important. We hope that by reading this article, the public learns not only about their favorite, but also about the other two species. 🙂

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