Going ultrasonic

(c) Dale Sutton/2020Vision

Mistakenly thought to be blind, bats are in fact perfectly able to see, but instead use a superior method to navigate the night: ultrasonic frequencies.

Bats are the only flying mammals in the world and can navigate at speeds of around 100kmph in flight.

When hunting, bats rely primarily on their excellent hearing to find prey using echolocation. They emit high-pitched calls, too high for all but the most sensitive human ears, and the returning echo creates a ‘sound map’ of their surroundings, including the size, shape and direction of an object or potential prey. 

Bats have been suffering from a bad reputation for centuries, not just since Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This is an untrue judgment as they are incredibly important for our ecosystem. Bats are an indicator species; if bat populations are strong in an area, it is often a sign that the ecosystem is doing well and has good biodiversity. 

Bechstein's bat

Bechstein's bat © Chris Damant

There are over 1,000 bat species in the world, the second-largest order of mammals after rodents. A mere 18 of those species reside in the UK including the common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle. Pipistrelles are the bats you are most likely to see and are incredibly small, weighing as little as 3 grams!

Most species of bat feed on insects and some on fruits. This makes them both important pest controllers and pollinators. 

Unlike many other small mammals, bats can live for up to 30 years and some even longer. Their long life is believed to be due to how they control their metabolism and heart rate to save energy. When they do not need to be active they enter into a sort of suspended animation (torpor and hibernation) and slow down their bodily processes to a bare minimum, dropping their body temperate to a few degrees celsius. This adaptation is critical in helping them survive cold winters when little or no insect prey is available.

Noctule bat © Johannes Rummenhohl

Noctule bat © Johannes Rummenhohl

Only two other mammals in the UK are considered true hibernators: hedgehogs and dormice. It is believed that in autumn, they seek out cool, stable temperature environments such as caves or hollow trees to spend the winter months, only waking up occasionally. However, very few bats are ever seen in winter, so little is known about where they spend the cold season.

It was these incredible creatures that inspired Ultrasonic, a new gin produced by Puddingstone Distillery as a continuation of our fourth year in partnership and following the success of Himalayan Balsam gin

 

To make the gin, Puddingstone uses a unique ultrasonic process and pot distillation to extract flavour and aroma from juniper, angelica root, elderflower, coriander seed, roasted barley, Bramley apple and mint.

Read more about the gin and buy a bottle from Puddingstone's website

Ultrasonic Gin | Matt Bishop Photography

Ultrasonic Gin | Matt Bishop Photography