A RARE female bat rescued by the RSPCA has found herself a Batman in time for Valentine's Day.

Merri, a grey long eared bat, has been recovering at the charity's RSPCA wildlife centre at West Hatch after being found grounded last August when she was just three-weeks-old.

She is building up her weight and flying strength ready to be released in the spring.

Her rescuers feared Merri, who was discovered in Merriott, might have to fly solo back into the wild until a male long earned companion, Gandalf, was taken into the care of Secret World Wildlife Rescue and bat rehabilitators hit on the idea of pairing them together.

RSPCA bat expert India Long, who took Merri under her wing when she was first admitted, said: "Merri was tiny when she first came in to us - she only weighed 5g and needed round the clock care.

"She was really frail and close to death. We weren’t sure if she would make it, so it’s amazing that she has pulled through so well.

"She has more than doubled in weight. We’re all really looking forward to releasing her and her new friend back into the wild.

"She had been living alongside brown long-eared-bats before Gandalf came along, but they seem to have really hit it off as they cuddle up on one side of the room, and the brown long eared bats are huddled up together on the other side of the room.

"We don’t know if their little love story will last when they fly off into the night into the big wide world together - they may just be friends - but we hope so.

"We are going to set up a special bat box for them where they are going to be released in the hope they will roost there. It has to have an apex roof so they can fit in with their longs ears."

Grey long-eared bats are one of the rarest bats in England and among the rarest mammals - there are thought to be only around 1,000 of them in this country, so to have two in the same area that need help and can then be released together has excited staff.

Daniel Clifford Bryant, animal carer at Secret World who took Gandalf into care initially, said: "We are thrilled to hear that Gandalf has been paired up with a female and that they can return home together. Working with other wildlife rescue centres is so important in being able to maintain our native wildlife populations."

Ms Long will continue to care for the grey long-eared bats before working with the Somerset Bat Group for their eventual release.


  • Grey long-eared bat colonies are only found in Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Somerset and Sussex in England;
  • Although widespread in southern Europe, they are very rare in England;
  • Their ears are nearly as long as their body but aren’t always obvious - when resting they curl their ears back or tuck them away under their wings;
  • They eat moths, small beetles and crane flies;
  • They emerge at night and forage in open spaces, catching prey in flight.