Pipistrelles are the smallest and most common bat in the UK (Wardhaugh, 1995). It was only recently discovered that there are two separate species of pipistrelle, both were previously grouped together as Pipistrellus pipistrellus. Both species are extremely similar but genetic differences and differences in the frequency of their echolocation calls distinguish the two. P. pipistrellus is a medium to dark brown colour generally having a slightly darker dorsal side than ventral side although it is often not distinct. The frequencies used by P. pipistrellus for echolocation lie between 45-76 kHz, have most energy at 47 kHz and have an average duration of 5.6 ms. (Parsons & Jones, 2000); (Obrist et al, 2004).
Pipistrelles emerge from their roosts to feed quite early, often before sunset. They consume small moths, gnats and other small insects. A single pipistrelle may consume up to 3,000 insects in one night (The Bat Conservation Trust, 2010). It forages in a variety of habitats including open woodland, scrubland, farmland, gardens, urban areas and over water. Summer roosts are generally found in trees and external features of buildings such as overhanging tiles, hibernation occurs in trees, bat boxes and crevices in buildings.
- Wardhaugh, A.A. 1995. Bats of the British Isles. Shire Natural History, Aylesbury
- Parsons, S. & Jones, G.2000. Acoustic identification of twelve species of echolocating bat by discriminant function analysis and artificial neural networks. J Exp Biol., 203: 2641-2656.
- Obrist, M.K., Boesch, R. & Flückiger, P.F. 2004. Variability in echolocation call design of 26 Swiss bat species: Consequences, limits and options for automated field identification with a synergic pattern recognition approach. Mammalia., 68 (4): 307-32.
- The Bat Conservation Trust: Species Information Sheet – Common pippistrelle (2010)
Compiled by David Mallaburn