A tiny British bat has made a record-breaking journey, flying more than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from the famed London Zoo to Russia’s northwestern region of Pskov – only to meet its end at the claws of a stray Russian cat.
An incredible life-and-death story of a tiny female Nathusius’ pipistrelle bat was this week brought into the limelight by the British Bat Conservation Trust.
The bat was found by Svetlana Lapina, resident of a small village of Moglino in the Pskov region, late in July. She spotted the tiny mammal lying on the ground injured after it apparently came under a feline attack. The woman brought it to a local bat-saving group, but the animal perished shortly after.
Even in its death, however, the creature enabled a startling scientific discovery. A ring with a stamp of the London Zoo was found on its arm, suggesting that the bat had made it to Moglino all the way from the UK. After the incident was reported to the Trust, it emerged that the bat received its ring in 2016 at Bedfont Lakes Country Park near Heathrow in London. Back then, the animal weighed only 8 grams and was about the size of a human thumb.
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“This is very exciting. It’s great to be able to contribute to the international conservation work to protect these extraordinary animals and learn more about their fascinating lives,” said bat recorder Brian Briggs, who apparently was the one to put the ring on the well-traveled chiropteran.
In the years following the ringing, the bat traveled through a large chunk of Europe. Even assuming it flew in a straight line all the way to Pskov, the journey would have covered 2,018 kilometers (more than 1,200 miles) of distance. However, such a choice of route is quite unlikely, meaning the ringed bat probably traveled a lot more before falling victim to the cat.
The journey has been called remarkable since it’s one of the longest trips undertaken by the species that has ever been recorded. The achievement is dwarfed only by the voyage of another common pipistrelle that traveled all the way from Latvia to Spain in 2019, covering some 2,224 kilometers in the process.
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