Bat thought to be extinct found hiding — Analysis

A secret tunnel hidden in the UK has uncovered the last remaining representative of an endangered species.

Animal preservation activists had reason to rejoice this Christmas, after one of Britain’s last-known big bats was spotted hibernating in Sussex. The search for the mate has begun to save this almost extinct species.

Believed to be the nation’s most solitary animal, the greater mouse-eared bat, nicknamed ‘Lonely Joe’, was last seen in 2019. Concerns had been rising over the fate of the species, as he is thought to be the last survivor in the UK — once gone, it would be declared extinct. However, the country’s loneliest animal had been spotted over Christmas, the Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.

Lonely Joe is now in search of a partner. Animal lovers have been asked to look out for the big bats, the largest of Britain’s 11 bat species, whose wings can stretch to nearly 50cm (20in) when in flight.

In 2002, the first discovery of a single male in nature was made. He’s believed to have been born that year, making him almost 20 years old now. However, for his species, he’s actually not that old, as greater mouse-eared bats can live for up to 35 years. The Guardian reported that he was in excellent health after he was checked in 2007. However, an examination of his privates revealed that he never had been sexually active.

Since many winters, the bat has been hibernating at the same abandoned dark tunnel in Sussex. It’s exact location is being kept secret, so as not to disturb him, as troubling a bat mid-hibernation can be life-threatening for the species.

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Lonely Joe remains motionless for five months in his hideout every winter. It is not known where he lives the remainder of the year. Although researchers considered placing a tag on Lonely Joe, they decided to not bother him. He flies only at night, which is a problem because such tags are primarily for birds that migrate and can be powered by sunlight.

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