A tiny “Olympian bat” that broke a migration record when it flew more than 1,200 miles from the UK to Russia ended up being killed by a cat on arrival.
The flight of the female Nathusius’ pipistrelle across Europe has been hailed as one of the greatest ever known by scientists.
Weighing just 8g and only as big as a human thumb, the bat was found on the ground after her 1,254-mile journey after being attacked by the cat.
It was discovered by Russian resident Svetlana Lapina in the small village of Molgino in the Pskov region and recused by a bat rehabilitation group but later died.
A ring marked with London Zoo on its wing showed it had been captured in 2016 at Bedfont Lakes Country Park near Heathrow by bat recorder Brian Briggs.
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This journey marks one of the longest-known bat travels globally, the furthest known record from Britain across Europe and the only long distance movement recorded like this from west to east.
The record is of interest to bat experts in Russia and the UK as the range expansion of the Nathusius’ pipistrelle is linked to climate change, due to its predicted impact on the future of the species.
Mr Briggs said: “This is very exciting. It’s great to be able to contribute to the international conservation work to protect these extraordinary animals and learn more about their fascinating lives.”
The majority of previous records have been males that have flown south-west from Latvia. This achievement is topped by only one other bat in Europe: a Nathusius’ pipistrelle that migrated all the way from Latvia to Spain in 2019 in 1,381 miles.
‘Olympian’ bat smashes British record for long distance migration! A tiny bat has been nicknamed the ‘Olympic bat’ by scientists after she beat all known British records and flew 2,018 km across Europe – one of the greatest ever known flights by a bat: https://t.co/cySmylD5P4 pic.twitter.com/6svMLdKibj
— Bat Conservation Trust (@_BCT_) August 6, 2021
Lisa Worledge, head of conservation services at the Bat Conservation Trust, said: “This is a remarkable journey and the longest one we know of any bat from Britain across Europe. What an Olympian!
“Her journey is an exciting scientific finding and another piece in the puzzle of bat migration. The movements of Nathusius’ pipistrelles around the UK and between the UK and the continent remain largely mysterious.”
There have been more than 2,600 Nathusius’ pipistrelles recorded in the UK since the National Nathusius’ Pipistrelle Project launched in 2014 to shed light on their breeding, distribution and migration behaviours. Maternity colonies are known in Kent, Northumberland, Surrey and Greater London.
Additional reporting by Press Association