A COUPLE were shocked to find they are sharing their home with around 70 uninvited guests – a colony of bats which have been "hanging out’’ in the attic.
Claire-Odette Sinfield, who moved to her home in Willow Park, Oswaldtwistle, in March knew nothing of the furry mammals until she went up to put some duvets in storage and saw the droppings.
At first she thought she had mice, until one of the tiny creatures flew past her.
She now believes they have been taking advantage of her central heating during the chilly summer weather.
Claire, 26, who lives with fiance Gary White, 44, owner of GCF Furniture in Clayton-le-Moors, phoned the Bat Cons-ervation Trust which sent an expert to inspect the roost.
Claire, who is an office and accounts manager at the firm, said: "The man from the Trust thinks that at one point there must have been 70 or 80 bats in the colony. Many of the babies have left now but they’ll be back next year.
"The people who had the house before us had a boiler fitted last year and they put in the loft. The bats have got in through a hole near the flue and stayed there because it’s warm.
"So many people think they’re flying vampires but they’re not. They only eat insects and they’re really cute.
"They have not caused any damage and we’ve never heard them. The only problem is the droppings; there’s lots of them."
Bat man David Fisher said: "In this part of the world there are about four or five species of bat. The average size of a colony is about 50 though there are more in Claire’s attic.
"They tend to have a maternity roost where the pregnant females go to give birth. The bats only stay in houses between April and September.
"Many people have no idea that they have bats in the roof until they find lots of droppings. These species take well to new houses that are clean, warm and centrally-heated.
"In Claire’s case they are perched on top of the boiler."
For more information on bats contact the Bat Conservation Trust on 0845 1300 228 or log on to www.bats.org.uk.
- Bats can grow to four-and-a-half centimetres in length.
- In the UK there are 17 species – the most common being the common pipistrelle.
- Each bat can eat up to 3,000 small insects a night.
- Bats can live for 25 years.
- They are the only mammals in the world naturally capable of flight.
- Many species hang upside down because, unlike birds, they cannot launch themselves into the air from the ground.
- Although closely associated in literature with vampires, no UK species of bat drinks blood.
- They can drop their heart rate to around four beats a minute in hibernation compared with up to 1,000 beats per minute while flying.
- Bats reach sexual maturity around the age of three.
- Female bats give birth to one young at a time, usually around June. They leave the roost in August and hibernate from November until April.
- Anyone found disturbing the protected animals faces a hefty fine.
- It is an old wives’ tale that bats become entangled in people’s hair