Bats are fascinating creatures who play a crucial role in ecosystem balance. They are mysterious and misunderstood and, to many, hold a significant appeal. So it’s not surprising that we often get asked if I can get a bat survey licence if I’m not an ecologist. Here, we will look at the importance of bats and bat licences. We also look at who is eligible for a license, how to get one and what you need one for. 

Can I get a bat licence if I'm not an ecologist?
Can I get a bat licence if I am not an ecologist?

Why are Bats Important?

Before diving into the eligibility criteria for gaining a bat licence, let’s first look at why they exist.

Bats are protected species in the UK. They have suffered significant population decline in the last century due to habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation, and human disturbance. They play a key role in the ecosystem and are a good indicator of the health of the environment. 

Bats in the UK eat insects. Sadly, agriculture has had a marked impact on bat populations through pesticide use which causes a lack of safe food for bats to eat. Agriculture also disturbs and degrades habitats for bats, which is another driver of population loss. Developments, barn and loft conversions are also having an impact as many bat species use human structures as roosts.

What is a Bat Licence?

Licencing is the regulatory measure that ensures only responsible and informed individuals are engaged in activities related to bats. These activities include handling, studying, rehabilitation, creating mitigation plans, and advising on construction. Before gaining your bat licence, you will need to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to deal with these protected species in a way that promotes their safety and welfare. 

A bat licence proves that you have studied to a relevant level. You understand bat ecology and conservation and are dedicated to ensuring their safety and well-being. The licence enables you to legally disturb, trap and handle bats. As well as giving advice and providing mitigation schemes for bats.

Why are Bat Licences Important?

Bats are a heavily protected group of species in the UK due to their rapid population loss. Some severe consequences can be brought against those who willfully cause harm or disturb bats. This includes unlimited fines and even jail time. 

Holding a bat licence shows you know what you are doing regarding bats. It allows you to carry out certain activities such as tracking, capturing, relocating and studying bats without potential legal repercussions. Bat licences enable us to ensure that people dealing with bats are qualified to do so. 

Can I get a bat licence if I’m not an ecologist?

Yes, you can get a bat licence if you’re not an Ecologist. Many people from other walks of life, from IT professionals, doctors and postmen to school children, can hold bat licences. There are plenty of casual bat enthusiasts who hold licences so they can volunteer with bats. What matters is that you understand bats and care for their welfare. As a bat licence takes quite a lot of work, those who hold one are usually dedicated individuals who work a lot with bats. 

Our bat licence training is designed to take you through to getting your bat licence. We can then assess and help you apply for your bat licence if you have shown enough learning and experience. 

Who can get a bat licence?

Most people who hold bat licences are ecologists or conservationists who regularly come across bats in their work. A bat licence is a terrific asset for anyone wishing to go into ecological consultancy. It is an absolute must if you wish to work with bats. 

However, being an ecologist or working in conservation is by no means a prerequisite for getting a bat licence. You can get a bat licence if you are in any way involved with bats. This includes volunteers, researchers, pest control experts, captive wildlife handlers, and rehabilitators. 

How do you get a bat licence?

To get a bat licence, you must demonstrate good knowledge of bat ecology, survey techniques, legislation and conservation and you can also be licenced to handle bats if you have that opportunity. You will need 100 hours of survey experience with bats, too, including internal building inspections which you need to do under the supervision of a licenced bat worker. The process ensures you are competent enough to complete the intended work. You don’t have to be an ecologist to get a bat licence and be confident and skilled enough to work with bats. 

We have a blog all about how to get a bat licence, which will give you a much more detailed breakdown of how to get your licence. Gaining your bat licence can be extremely useful for a career in ecological consultancy. It will help you stand out from other candidates to potential employers. A bat licence can also enable you to carry out bat work as a freelancer if you are interested in doing this. It is a powerful asset for your career. 

Do I Need a Licence to Survey Bats?

You don’t need a licence to conduct a bat survey as long as there is no risk of disturbing the bats. Examples of surveys that don’t require a licence are emergence surveys and transect surveys. A survey that involves disturbing a bat, such as entering a roost, should always be carried out under the supervision of a trained bat worker. They will have the knowledge and experience in bat surveys to ensure that disturbance is avoided. 

If you would like to learn more about surveying bats, we offer several courses to help you learn. Should you want to work towards your bat licence but have yet to gain experience with bats, we recommend taking our Bat Ecology and Surveying course. If you have some knowledge or experience already, we have more specific courses that can fill in some knowledge gaps or allow you to understand how to carry out specific surveys. Try Architectural Terms for Bat WorkersBats and Developments or Surveying Trees for Bats. However, our Bat Ecology and Surveying is a great place to start if you are new to bats. This can be done online or as a two-day face-to-face course. 

We also have a comprehensive Bat License Training which you can do even as an absolute beginner. 

Do I Need a Licence to Handle Bats?

Bats are protected against killing, injuring, capturing and disturbing. In some circumstances, it is in the interest of the bat’s welfare to immediately remove them from a dangerous situation. In this case it is advisable to seek the help of a bat worker as they will know how to handle the bat.  You can only touch or handle a bat without a licence is under the close supervision of someone with a licence. 

Health and Safety

There are a few health and safety concerns when working with bats. For example, you may be required to enter dilapidated buildings or handle bats that can potentially carry types of rabies called European Bat Lyssaviruses. Because of these concerns, we recommend that you be aware of the potential risks involved and how to handle them in your everyday work with bats. Our Health and Safety Awareness for Bat Workerscourse can help ensure you are fully aware of the risks and how to reduce them. 

If you are new to bats and are wondering if getting a licence is for you, then start with our Bat Ecology and Surveying course.