Gallery: 32-year-old bat found in Estonia

A bat aged over thirty has been identified in South Estonia, ERR's Menu portal reports

The species in question, the Brandt's bat (Myotis brandtii), is noted for its longevity in any case, with examples found of over 40 years of age, but the recent find is the oldest recorded in Estonia. The bat was found in Piusa cave, a well-known haunt of Chiropterae, in Võru County.

The Brant's bat, "Tõmmulendlane" in Estonian, has a life expectancy relative to its body size of around twice that of human beings, while the species also holds the record for oldest recorded bat worldwide (at least 41 years of age – ed.). The practice of tagging bats via a ring attached to a limb (see gallery) allows conservationists and others to log ages and life-spans.

The Estonian example had been ringed just over 31 years ago to the day, on March 7, 1990, when it was estimated to be one year old, making it around 32 years of age. To put it into perspective, the bat was already over two years old when the restoration of Estonian independence took place in August 1991.

Rauno Kalda, bat expert at the Environment Agency (Keskkonnaagentuur) said the bat was likely ringed in the same location, the Piusa cave, as it was recently rediscovered, since bats tend to over-winter in the same location throughout their life-span (bats hibernate – ed.).

The practice of tagging bats has been ongoing in Estonia since 1947, and was particularly prolific during the Soviet era, with over 16,000 animals tagged between then and the mid-1990s, ERR reports. Since then, around a tenth of that number have been tagged.

The data provides a picture of bat populations in the country.

Brandt's bats in Estonia tend to live in the forest, while caves and man-made excavations such as tunnels and military installations provide a popular winter residence.

Brandt's bats are one of the smaller species of bats, measuring around 4-5cm in length, and weighing between 4.5 and 9.5 grams.

The bat as a general order of mammals was named Estonia's animal of the year for 2020.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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