Thursday, August 11, 2011

Woman driven from apartment after 1,000 bats set up home in rafters

For Alison Murray, buying her first home was a dream come true. But she has told how she was forced to flee the building in terror after more than 1,000 bats turned her flat into a nightmare. The bats - 500 female pipi-strelles and their estimated 500 "pups" - have transformed the roof space above Ms Murray's top-floor flat in the Peterculter area of Aberdeen, Scotland into a roost. And because they are protected under European conservation laws, there is nothing she can do until the bats decide to leave. Ms Murray, 25, said she had no choice but to leave the flat. She revealed that she had finally left her home after one of the bats found its way into a towel she was using to dry herself after a shower.

"It's absolutely ridiculous," she said. "These bats seem to have more rights than I do." Ms Murray bought the flat in Johnston Gardens in January. But four months later, she became aware she had some unwanted guests. "I found the first pipistrelle in my kitchen and I thought at first it was a one-off," she said. "But after I found bat number four I realised there was a problem. I found them sleeping in the plug hole in the kitchen sink and flying about the living room. And I could hardly sleep at night because they are in the roof space right above my bed, and they were making a constant high-pitched noise.


"But I had to move out when I found one crawling over me after I'd had a shower. I had put the towel around me when I walked through to my bedroom. I felt something move under the towel and looked in the mirror to see a bat crawling out. I just screamed and decided right then I couldn't live here any more. I moved back to live with Mum and Dad in Inverurie - much to their delight." After being forced to flee her home, Ms Murray contacted the Bat Conservation Trust, which sent members to offer advice. "They went outside and counted the bats," she said. "They just kept flying out and out and out. They counted 500 bats and told me there would be another 500 babies in the roof space.

"It's a complete nightmare. I have had to go back to the flat to get mail or clothes and I just run in and run out. After having one crawling over me, I have developed a fear of bats. They are horrible. I hate them." She has applied for a licence from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to enable her to arrange for the holes in the roof the bats use to be closed up once they have stopped using the roost, but that could take months. Ms Murray said: "I'm just annoyed that you can't do anything to stop them. It might be the end of September or the start of October before the bats leave. But I don't think I'll ever feel fully comfortable in this flat again."

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