Visitors to the Monkey Sanctuary are able to gain a fascinating insight into the mysterious world of the rare lesser horseshoe bat, via a cctv link. The bats use the cellar under the house as a roost site in the summer months, when females gather to give birth to their single offspring. The colony has been there for at least 30 years, emerging at night to zig-zag between the enclosures and inquisitively inspect any rooms with their doors left open. Lesser horseshoes are restricted to South West England and Wales, so Cornwall is an important stronghold for this endangered mammal. By the end of the summer, over a hundred bats will have left the cellar on their nocturnal search for insect prey. Aptly named, the bats have a horseshoe shaped nose, and with bodies only the size of a walnut, they are dwarfed by their cousin, the greater horseshoe. Populations have declined due to loss of roost sites and intensive farming methods.
A grant given by the Mammals Trust UK has enabled us to install a pan and tilt camera and infra-red lights in the cellar, which enables visitors to search for the bats and zoom in from the safety of the Bat Zone.
The bats vigorously groom themselves to keep their fur and wings in tip-top condition and, did you know, they only like to hang by one leg? Who knows what other behaviours the camera will uncover? The UK has 16 species of bats, all eat insects and many rely on houses for roost sites because natural roosts, such as old trees have been destroyed. All bat roosts are protected by law, even if the bats are not present. It is vital for British bats to have public support, for without it they will disappear from our night skies. We hope that the camera link is a fantastic way of dispelling the myths and fears about bats.
The Sanctuary site is home to much more than monkeys and the Wildlife Room allows our visitors to get a taste of the vast array of plants, insects, birds, mammals and amphibians that make their home within our nine acre site.
Equipped with live feed cameras, pre-recorded footage, interactive displays and bird hide, the Wildlife Room is a great place for exploring for children and adults alike!