• Name: Common pipistrelle | Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Soprano pipistrelle | Pipistrellus pygmaeus
  • Size: 20-23cm wingspan 
  • Life span: 4-5 years  
  • Diet: Small insects, including Flies, Mosquitos, Moths and Midges
  • Reproduction: During the summer, females form maternity colonies where they give birth to a single young in June or early July. For three or four weeks the young are fed solely on their mother’s milk. After about four weeks the young are able to fly and at six weeks they are able to forage for themselves.
  • When to see: Spring, Summer and Autumn (April to October; although in Scilly they may be seen feeding during the winter months too!)
  • Where to see: Common pipistrelles feed in a wide range of habitats comprising woodland, hedgerows, grassland, farmland, suburban and also urban areas.  Here in Scilly you can often see them using the warmer areas over tarmac or concrete roads with close hedges or flittering across the beaches whilst feeding; at dusk.  
  • Conservation status:  ICUN Redlist | Least Concern (Global)
  • Population Trend: Stable | Recovering (Populations of pipistrelles have declined dramatically in the last few decades. This is at least partly as a result of modern agricultural practices, although common pipistrelle populations have started showing signs of recovery in recent years
  • Threats:  Loss of habitat, use of pesticides, climate change (changes in weather patterns, changing temperatures),  
  • Fun Fact:  It was only discovered in the late 1990s that there are actually two very closely related species of pipistrelle bat - common and soprano - both originally grouped as Pipistrellus pipistrellus. They are distinguished by the different frequency of their echolocation calls.  A third species of pipistrelle, a slightly larger bat called Nathusius' pipistrelle, is also found in the UK. All three species have been recorded in Scilly!

Description: The Common pipistrelle has dark, golden-brown fur, a slightly paler underside and a dark mask around the face.  Its flight is rapid with lots of twists and turns.  The Soprano pipistrelle is similar in appearance, so the two can be difficult to tell apart (the easiest way is by their echolocation calls).

Pipistrelles are the commonest and most widespread of all British bat species.

A single Pipistrelle can consume up to 3,000 insects in one night!

Sounds produced by Common pipistrelles are above the range of human hearing; with the exception of social calls that may be heard by children and some adults with good hearing. With a bat detector (heterodyne) the echolocation calls can be picked up between about 45 and 70kHz.


The calls sound like a series of clicks towards the top of this range, turning into ‘wetter’ slaps with the deepest sounding slap
being heard at about 45kHz, the peak intensity of the call.

Want to know more?  Check out our blog "Working with Bats in Scilly" or take a look at what our local Bat Group are up to, maybe join them for a Bat Walk?


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With thanks to BareFoot Photographer for the Common pipistrelle image