In spring, the caves under the National Museum of Costume can shelter around 200 furry bats (Miniopterus schreibersii), a species which is classified as “vulnerable” in Portugal. A medium sized bat, with a body measuring around 56mm in length and weighing 12g. Its fur is greyish, sometimes with brown tonalities, relatively short and very dense. The ears are very short and have a characteristic square shape.

Despite not harbouring a great number of animals during the most critical times for the survival of the species (hibernation and maternity), the underground spaces of the National Museum of Costume  are considered important for various reasons. One is the particularity of sheltering a species that normally only occurs in caves and mines and which can be found in these underground spaces which have the ideal microclimatic conditions for them to settle during part of their life cycle. More important is the fact that these form part of the route that these furry bats (Miniopterus schreibersii ( Kuhl, 1817)) use; the monitoring of ringed bats has allowed to detect their movements from the  National Museum of Costume to eight different shelters, meaning that these underground spaces are an important intermediate resting place between their hibernation and maternity shelters.

Considering the importance of this shelter and the benefits that we can obtain from the permanence of these bats in this place, it is essential to continue to protect these underground spaces!

Luísa Rodrigues (1) and Jorge M. Palmeirim (2)
(1) Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e da Biodiversidade – Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Biodiversity (2) Departamento de Biologia Animal e Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa – Department of Animal Biology and Centre for Environmental Biology, University of Lisbon.