Weighing in at only 3-8g with typical wingspans of 18-22cm, the pipistrelles are Gibraltar’s smallest bats. With its wings folded in, a pipistrelle is no larger than the average person’s thumb! There are currently 3 confirmed species of pipistrelle bats in Gibraltar:
•Soprano Pipistrelle (pipistrellus pygmaeus)
•Common Pipistrelle (pipistrellus pipistrellus)
•Kuhl’s Pipistrelle (pipistrellus kuhlii)
Gibraltar’s pipistrelles are almost exclusively urban dwelling species with most choosing to roost within our buildings. Cavity walls, roof tiles, wall cladding, weep holes and disused light fittings are all potential roosting spots for these bats. This makes pipistrelles, particularly Sopranos the most common and widespread bats in Gibraltar. They emerge soon after sunset (sometimes even earlier), which makes them the first bats to take to the air and it is therefore easy to spot their energetic flight in our skies well before darkness falls.
Pipistrelles can vary somewhat in colour, even within the same species. The fur of the Soprano however, is typically sand or reddish brown in colour, that of Common yellow brown to grey brown and that of Kuhl’s generally darker than the other two but with a much paler underside.
The echolocation call of the Soprano Pipistrelle peaks at a frequency of around 55 kHz, making it the highest call of all European pipistrelles; hence its name! It’s followed by the Common Pipistrelle which echolocates at around 45 kHz and the Kuhl’s Pipistrelle at around 37 kHz.