Bats in Churches has published its first ever children’s book to explain the benefits and challenges of bats roosting in churches.
The Bats in Churches project was formed in 2018, when Natural England, the Church of England, Historic England, the Bat Conservation Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust brought together cross-sector experts, church communities and volunteers to address the issues that can arise when bats and historic churches co-exist and help ensure a harmonious future for both.
Inspired by a true story of bats living in one of their project churches, The Little Church Bat tells the story of Mo, a bat who lives with her friends inside the chimney of a tumbledown cottage on the edge of a village. When the cottage is knocked down, Mo and her friends take shelter in an old church, but their presence causes cleaning problems for the churchwarden. He calls on a local ecologist and church architect for help. Together they work to safeguard the future of the church and the bats.
The story, written by Bats in Churches engagement officers Rose Riddell and Diana Spencer and illustrated by Chris Shields, was inspired by the real-life case of All Saints, a Grade II listed 12th century church in Braunston-in-Rutland. where the impact of bat droppings and urine was causing such an impact that they considered closing it. Rose and Diana were inspired to create a children’s book to help communicate the issues around bats in churches to a younger audience and their families, as well as raise awareness of the impact of habitat loss caused by human activities on bats.
Rose said: “Bats have the highest legal protection. While some species are starting to recover, if they don’t have safe spaces to breed it has long-term implications. Female bats gather together in summer to have their babies and if that maternity roost is disturbed, it destroys the whole colony as they cannot breed, and they only have one pup a year.
“An old church, with open flight space and rafters in the ceiling, is perfect for a bat – it’s like a woodland glade. The challenge was to find a way of talking about bat poo and wee inside churches, and the problems this can cause, in a simple and engaging way, while at the same time highlighting why churches are so important for bats, and why both bats and churches need our protection and support.”
The book also complements the Bats in Churches Challenge Badge, which enables children and young people to engage with the work of the project through a variety of crafts, games and outdoor activities at their local church.
Proceeds from sales of the book will go towards the Bats in Churches project. Find out more about the book and order a copy here: Meet The Little Church Bat!
Read how St Mary’s Church, Edgeworth, is working with Bats in Churches to combat the effects of bats at their church.