The Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) is a small bat that was only formally separated from the Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) in 1999. Both species appear extremely similar. P. pygmaeus is a medium to dark brown colour generally having a slightly darker dorsal side than ventral side although it is often not distinct. The two species were first distinguished on the basis of their differing frequency echolocation calls, with theP. pygmaeus emitting a slightly higher frequency. The frequencies used by P. pygmaeus for echolocation lie between 53-86 kHz, have most energy at 55 kHz and have an average duration of 5.8 ms. (Parsons & Jones, 2000); (Obrist et al, 2004).
P. pygmaeus forages around woodland and wetlands, and is more closely associated with water than P. pipistrellus. It feeds predominantly on small Diptera (especially aquatic midges). 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.
- 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