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Rare bats found living in dinosaur's belly

The triceratops is part of a range of large replica dinosaurs. Photo: Devon Wildlife Trust

A colony of bats has been found living in a dinosaur exhibit in Ilfracombe.

The lesser horseshoe bats were discovered roosting inside a fibre-glass triceratops, part of a display at the Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park.

The finding was made by The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project.

Volunteers are carrying out night time surveys using ultrasonic bat detectors and mapping the places where the nocturnal mammals live in Devon.

Bats will seek out safe and dry places they can rest up during the day before venturing out at night to look for food. The stomach of this dinosaur obviously fitted the bill.

– Ruth Testa, The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project
Bats seek out safe and dry places to rest during the day. Credit: Devon Wildlife Trust

The number of lesser horseshoe bats has declined in the UK over recent decades because of the loss of hedges, falling insect numbers and the destruction of their roosts.

We get to hear of some very unusual bat roosts and are always pleased to hear of new ones. But a fibreglass triceratops is definitely a first for us!

– Becky Wilson, Bat Conservation Trust

Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park is asking visitors to give the bats space and not disturb them.

We have recently installed six brand new animatronic dinosaurs. You never know, one day the bats may decide to move residence into one of our new dinosaurs, if they feel like upgrading!

– Louisa Bartlett, Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park