Mammals at Bedgebury
"Bedgebury Pinetum is a paradise for bats; it answers all their needs for roost sites and for the variety of insects from midges to moths, which the different types require. 5 of the 14 bat species found in Kent have been recorded in the Pinetum and I am sure that there are more to identify; we have just not found them yet! Park House is the jewel in the crown as it accommodates a large breeding colony of brown long eared bats, the largest bat known in Kent and the fourth biggest bat in the South East of England that is counted for in the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP)." - Val Sutton, Autumn/Winter Journal 2013.
Bedgebury Pinetum provides the perfect habitat for the bats with its trees, lakes, waterways and, vitally, the hedges that run within the Pinetum. Bats use hedges in the same way that humans use roads, to help them get about. They use them for commuting from one place, a roost for example, to a favourite feeding area, as well as between foraging sites. Hedges are also home to plenty of insects and bats often feed along hedge lines. Bedgebury's hedges are particularly important in linking different foraging sites providing opportunities for the bats to intermingle easily thereby increasing breeding. Dead trees are also sometimes left standing in the Pinetum because they are known to be bat roosts or to provide a good habitat.
Daubenton's, noctule (pictured below) and common and soprano pipistrelles are some of the other bat species that occur within the Pinetum and forest. The usual terrestrial mammals such as badgers and foxes, are resident but elusive. Many small mammals are to be found too and, in 2014, dormouse boxes were put up within the Pinetum to encourage this notable species. At certain times of the year, stoats are fairly easy to spot in the Pinetum.
While most species are encouraged to inhabit the Pinetum and forest, there are unwelcome animals such as deer and rabbits that eat our young trees. The non-native American mink is a particular problem for our nesting birds and small mammals so please let us know if you spot any in the area.
The elusive harvest mouse has been encouraged to make the Pinetum its home. In 2018 a survey of the area found some nests - you can read more about this exciting find here.