Surprise visitor moves into Carlisle East fire station and wins crews' affections

20.07.23 Pepistrelle Bat Credit: PA / Carlisle East Fire Station
The match-boxed sized Pepistrelle bat sought sanctuary from the torrential rain inside a firefighter's glove at Carlisle East Fire Station. Credit: PA / Carlisle East fire station

A surprise visitor who took cover from torrential rain at Carlisle East fire station won over crews' affections and ended up staying for a week.

The enamoured crew charmingly named their unexpected guest 'Charlie' - after the Cumbria Fire Appliance callsigns.

When starting their shifts, not one fire officer expected to find what or who was hiding in the donning area tucked away inside a fellow firefighter's glove.

Fire officers named their surprise visitor 'Charlie' and took him to Falcon Veterinary Centre to be cared for before being set free. Credit: Carlisle East Fire Station

Peeping through the darkness was a Pipistrelle Bat who was promptly taken to Falcon Veterinary Group to be checked out and cared for.

Dale Donald, who is a firefighter at Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, said: "My colleague Ella had been checking the donning room at night and thought she saw out of the corner of her eye bat's wings flapping.

"For the next 24 hours everyone on the station was on bat alert looking out for bats hidden in nooks and crannies and eventually someone on red watch found Charlie roosting. He was hanging from somebody's glove on their locker."

Carlisle East Fire Station posted their unusual discovery on social media and said the vet rehydrated Charlie and even gave him a "slap-up meal."

The crew also sought advice from the Bat Conservation Trust on what to do with their tiny nocturnal visitor.

No bigger than a matchbox, the Pipistrelle Bat is most commonly seen between April and October. Although miniscule in size, this breed of bat is capable of consuming 3,000 insects per night.

As well as a big appetite, Charlie made a huge impact on those who work at the fire station.

Thanks to the care Charlie received and advice given from the Bat Conservation Trust, he has been safely released back into the wild - happy and healthy.

  • Fun Facts about Pipistrelle Bats

What size are they and how long do they live? Pipistrelle bats are usually 3.5-4.5 centimetres long with a wingspan of 20-23 centimetres.They weigh between three and eight grams and on average live between four and five years.

Are they protected? They are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. They are also protected under European Protected

Species Annex IV of the European Habitats Directive.

Did you know....?

  • The Pipistrelle Bat is the UK's most common bat and also the smallest. They feed on midges, moths and other flying insects. They find the insects in the dark by using echolocation as they are of course nocturnal.

  • They roost in tree holes, bat boxes and even the roof spaces of houses, often in small colonies. During the summer, females form maternity colonies and have just a single pup each.

  • They usually have dark, golden-brown fur, a slightly paler underside and a dark mask around the face.

  • They are widespread across the UK but are missing from Shetland and parts of Orkney.

  • There are three species of Pipistrelle bat - common, soprano and Nathusius. You can tell them apart by the different frequencies of their echolocation calls.

Pipistrelle bats usually have dark, golden-brown fur, a slightly paler underside and a dark mask around the face. Credit: PA