A RARE bat has been spotted at Dudley Zoo, the furthest north the species has been found in the UK.

Bat watchers from The Birmingham and Black Country Bat Group, known as Brumbats, took on an overnight watch at the zoo's Big Ben Cavern.

The group managed to spot young male Lesser horseshoe bat, which has never been recorded this far north in the UK before making it the first time it has been found in the West Midlands.

Chris Leeson, a conservation officer at the zoo who joined in the search, said: "Lesser horseshoe bats are quite prevalent in the south east of the country, but little is known about why they’re this far north, whether it’s down to people not recording them or are they being pushed this way because of climate change. Either way, it’s our job to preserve them.”

“This native species is really difficult to catch as all other bats are quick flyers, but this one can slow right down and change direction to avoid our traps. We’ve managed to record their vocalisations in the past, but we’re really excited to finally catch one and confirm we have them living on site.”

The Brumbats catch the bats in harp traps and mist nets before carrying out a number of checks including weight, size and sex, as well as taking mouth swabs for a DNA sample before letting them go.

Nine different species have so far been identified at the zoo, with the findings helping to support research at the University of Wolverhampton.