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Bats

batsBats are the only mammals which depend on flight for movement. They are nocturnal species, coming out of their roost after sunset to look for food. Although bats can see, they locate prey and avoid obstacles by echolocation. They roost in various habitats, mainly sheltered areas, such as caves and wooded areas; but also in open areas, agricultural land and cliffs, as well as in man-made structures, such as water tunnels and fortifications. Bats tend to form social colonies, and are usually active during the summer period and hibernate in winter. Disturbance during the winter period limits their chances of survival as they would expend precious energy for flight instead of conserving food reserves. Bats are exceptionally vulnerable to extinction due to their slow reproduction rate, bearing only one young per year.

All Maltese bats are vulnerable to a variety of threats, since the areas where they roost and feed are modified, disturbed or lost. At times bats are also persecuted, captured and killed. Noting that all local bat species are essentially insectivorous – feed on insects, the indiscriminate use of insecticides reduces their prey.

It is important to note that all bat species are protected by national law under the Environment Protection Act. They are also protected under regional legislation, such as the Bonn Convention and its EuroBats Agreement. This implies that it is illegal to disturb, capture, kill, keep, sell or trade bat species.