Horseshoe bats – the rarest breed in the UK – have been discovered hibernating in a lime kiln next to the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal.

Ecologists from the Canals & River Trust found the protected horseshoe bats in a historic lime kiln, which was converted for the animals in 2013. This isn’t the first time that bats have been discovered at the site, but this discovery does mark the first time that they have used the lime kiln to hibernate.

The lesser horseshoe bat is the smallest and rarest bat species to be found in the UK. They search for hibernation spots that will remain cold enough for their body temperatures to drop and allow them to enter hibernation. The lime kiln was specifically designed to trap cold air making it the perfect hibernation spot.

Dr Mark Robinson, ecologist at Gland?r Cymru, said: “It’s really exciting to see that the lesser horseshoe bats are using the lime kiln. Whenever we create habitats for wildlife along the waterways we always try to provide what’s best for them, and it’s great that in this case the bats agree it’s where they want to be.

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