Noctule bat

©Tom Marshall


Scientific name: Nyctalus noctula
Our largest bat, the noctule roosts in trees and can be seen flying over the canopy in search of insect-prey, such as cockchafers. Like other bats, it hibernates over winter.

Species information


Length: 3.7-4.8cm
Wingspan: 32-40cm
Weight: 18-40g
Average lifespan: 4-5 years

Conservation status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. European Protected Species under Annex IV of the European Habitats Directive.

When to see

April to October


The noctule is our largest bat. All UK bats are nocturnal, feeding on midges, moths and other flying insects that they find in the dark by using echolocation. Noctules roost in holes in trees and bat boxes, but rarely in buildings. During the summer, females form maternity colonies and have just a single pup. Noctules can be seen feeding on insects over the tree canopy; they particularly enjoy eating flying beetles, such as the large cockchafer. They hibernate over the winter, between November and April.

How to identify

The noctule has rich, golden-brown fur, with darker wings, ears and face. Its flight is characteristically strong and fast.


Widespread across England and Wales.

Did you know?

Although most bat calls require a bat detector to be heard by us, noctule calls can heard by some adults and children. The calls range from 20 to 45kHz and peak at 25kHz.

How people can help

Whether you live in town or country, you can help to look after garden wildlife by providing food, water and shelter. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started. To buy bird and animal food, feeders and homes, such as bat boxes, visit the Vine House Farm website - an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm which gives 5% of all its takings to The Wildlife Trusts.