Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Chiroptera / Vespertilionidae / Barbastella / Species
Barbastella barbastellus - Western barbastelle (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)








Return to top of page

General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Barbastelle
  • Barbastelle d'Europe (French)
  • Mopsfledermaus (German)
  • Murciélago de bosque (Spanish)
  • Vespertilio barbastellus Schreber, 1774; France.

Alternative species names (the second part of the binomial species names): [Genus] communis; [Genus] daubentonii; (B141).

Names for new-borns / juveniles

Names for males --
Names for females --

Return to top of page

General Appearance

Medium-sized bat. Black or blackish brown with "frosted" appearance from pale hair tips. Large black short broad ears joined on top of head distinctive and give head a squarish appearance (B142, B167).

Similar Species

Other bats. Differentiated by:
  • Nose with simple shape (no horseshoe).
  • Base of ears joined at top of head.
  • Ear less than 20mm long and with length not much greater than width; tragus basically triangular (B167).
Sexual Dimorphism Males slightly smaller than females, e.g. forearm length mean 38.8mm versus 39.9mm for females (Switzerland) (B142).

Return to top of page


Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B51, B141, B142, B143, B147, B148, B167, B221

Husbandry references:

B151, P19.1.w7, B168.7.w7, P19.1.w7, B142


(UK Contacts)

(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

  • --

Return to top of page

TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  • Insectivorous Bats (Microchiroptera)

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

  • Insectivorous Bats (Microchiroptera)

Return to top of page

Husbandry Information


"Difficult to keep alive in captivity" (B142).
Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

Return to top of page

Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

  • Head-body length 40-52mm (B142).
  • Forearm 36-43mm (B142).
  • Wingspan 245-280mm (B142).
Height --
Adult weight General 6-13g (B142).
Male --
Female --
New-born weight --
Growth rate --

Return to top of page


General Skull: Condylobasilar length 12.9-13.8mm (B142).

Nose: Muzzle short, broad, glandular (B142).

Ears: Length and width similar, 14-16mm, black, close together on head - united by low band across forehead. Conspicuous notch on external margins. Tragus large, slightly more than half of ear length, triangular (B142, B147).

Dentition (Teeth) I 2/3, C1/1, P2/2, M3/3 (B142).
Eyes --

Return to top of page

Legs and Tracks

Wings broad, membranes thin, dark brown (almost black) (B142).
  • Forearm 36-43mm (B142).
  • Wingspan 245-280mm (B142).

Return to top of page



Return to top of page

Coat / Pelage

Adult Female
  • Dorsal: Blackish-brown. Hair tips pale yellow/cream therefore appears "frosted".
  • Ventral: grey-brown, hair tips paler.
  • Face and ears: very dark brown (almost black).
  • Membranes: very dark brown (almost black).
  • N.B. fur extends onto tail membrane and wings.

(B142, B147, B167)

Variations (If present) --
Moult --
New-born / Juvenile --

Return to top of page

Neonate (New-born) Characteristics


Return to top of page

Detailed Anatomy Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)


Return to top of page

Life Stages / Natural Diet / Physiology

Reproductive Stages

Breeding Season --
Oestrus / Ovulation --
Gestation / Pregnancy --
Parturition / Birth
  • May to early August (Germany) (B147).
Neonatal development --
Litter size
Time between Litters / Litters per year
  • One per year (B147).
Lactation / Milk Production --
Sexual Maturity --
  • At least 18 years (B142).

Return to top of page

Natural Diet

  • Insects: mainly microlepidopterans and small dipterans (B143).

Return to top of page

Detailed Physiology Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Temperature --
Pulse --
Respiration --
Faeces --
Haematology / Biochemistry --
Chromosomes 2n = 32, FNa = 50-52 (B142).
Other --

Return to top of page


Feeding Behaviour

Over water, along forest edges, in parks (B142, B143)

Return to top of page

Parental Behaviour


Return to top of page

Social Behaviour / Territoriality

Intra-specific Summer:
  • Females in nursery roosts separate from males.
  • Males solitary.


  • May be found in large numbers in tight clusters at one site in January/February when very cold.
  • Usually solitary or small groups.

(B142, B143)

Inter-specific --

Return to top of page

Sexual Behaviour

Promiscuous (B142).

Return to top of page

Predation in Wild


Return to top of page

Activity Patterns

  • Preferred hibernation temperature mean 4.0°C, some preferring 0°C (B142).
  • Flight: usually low, often over water. Heavy, fluttering/flapping, relatively slow.
  • Faster flight when travelling to feeding areas.
  • Usually alight head upwards.
  • Hibernation late September to early April

(B142, B147)

  • Emergence variable: quite early, sometimes begin before sunset.
  • Intermittent activity through the night.

(B142, B147)

Return to top of page

Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

  • Wooded river valleys preferred (B142).
  • Forested and upland habitats probably preferred (B143).
  • 170-1990m in Austria and to 2260 in Pyrenean mountains (B143).

Return to top of page

Nests / Burrows / Shelters

  • Hollow trees, buildings.
  • Nursery colonies: often behind shutters.
  • Hibernation: caves, bunkers, tunnels, cellars

(B142, B143).

Return to top of page

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

  • England, France, Morocco and possibly Senegal, to Caucasus (B51).
  • Northern Iberian Peninsula across Europe to southern Scandinavia, Latvia, Caucasus. Present on some Mediterranean islands, Canary Islands and Morocco. Not found in most of Scandinavia, Estonia, much of southern Europe (B143)
  • Britain: England and Wales, not Scotland or Northern Ireland.
  • Movement: flights of up to 290km recorded (B143)
Occasional and Accidental
  • Single record from Ireland (B143).


Return to top of page


Intraspecific variation

  • None known (B143).

Return to top of page

Conservation Status

Wild Population -
  • Little known, appears rare in western Europe, with decrease across most of European range, and considered endangered in e.g. Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium.
  • Probably higher population densities in central Europe.


  • In Britain: native, "widespread but rare". Pre-breeding population estimate of about 5,000, including 4,500 in England, 0 in Scotland, 500 in Wales. Population estimate was made with little information available; data believed to be "within the right order of magnitude". (B221)

General Legislation
  • Bern Convention, Appendix II
  • Bonn Convention, Appendix II.
  • EU Habitats and Species Directive, Annex II & Annex IV


CITES listing --
Red-data book listing
  • Disturbance, illegal persecution, loss of roosts, loss of prey (B143).
Captive Populations --
Trade --

Return to top of page