Bats, Slugs and Snails!

There are many things we get asked to illustrate on a daily basis, and some things can really make us do big silly grins! A firm favourite of everyone is the day we get to draw bugs. Slugs, snails, butterflies, all manner of tiny insects and worms, buzzy bees; you name it, we love to paint it!

Thankfully we also get a lot of animals to draw, and they are just as fun. Wildlife in general is brilliant, and we love being able to bring it to life. One thing we particularly like doing is bringing animals, bugs, insects and birds that perhaps people don’t like, or are scared of, to an audience and making people see those creatures in a new light.

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Spiders are a great example of this, and Sarah will soon be working on a project that she is very excited about, and one that just might make you see spiders in a different light! In honour of National Wildlife Day, which was on Sunday 3rd September, we wanted to highlight some of the lesser known animals, and we thought this would be a great chance to talk about one of the current books being worked on, Percy the Pipistrelle Bat. “Percy” was written by bat experts Tamsin & David Lee.

Percy the Pipistrelle Bat

Percy is a common bat, usually found hanging out (sorry, sorry couldn’t help it!) in places like old buildings, trees, bridges, tunnels and caves. You may not see them out and about too often, but they are there! If you sit in your garden on a warm summer’s evening and watch the skies around dusk you will see your own Percy, swooping and flying on his specially-formed wings. These wings actually have little hands adapted for flying, which makes bats the only mammals who fly rather than glide! So if you see them flapping as they forage in your garden for insects and bugs make sure you wave!

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Looking After Wildlife

As we are celebrating all wildlife, it’s worth pointing out that Percy, and all wildlife out of our homes, require bugs and insects to eat. A lot of people use pesticides and chemicals which get into the bugs, and then into the bats. If your garden is being slobbered by slugs, perhaps it’s time to look into new ways to control them? The beer tray is a fun one, where you leave some beer out for the slugs and they all come to drink it (naughty slugs!) and have one big ‘ole slug party. When they’ve had their fill, and you hear the last strains of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” fade away, scoop up all the slug party hats and the cocktail umbrellas, make sure mummy slug has her coat and take them to a lovely big compost heap or forest where they can sleep off the excesses of the night before. They won’t mind moving house, because they always enjoy finding new things to eat! If you’re being inundated with flies and nasties on your plants try squirting garlic water on them, because bugs always like to make sure they’re ready for a kiss and garlic will only give them bad breath!

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It’s worth remembering that birds also like eating slugs, snails and bugs, and birds can ingest nasties too. Even mice and rats, who are usually seen as vermin, deserve to live; just maybe not in your house. Don’t forget that your cat Fluffy is a big hunter; anything you feed mice to kill them could come back in Fluffy’s tummy. Mice actually love peanut butter, so if you buy a humane trap make sure to use peanut butter, and then release them far, far away – mice are good at coming back when they know the house is warm and the crumbs plentiful!

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 Keep An Eye Out For Percy!

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So, young Percy goes a-swooping and a-flapping through the night sky, and if you look closely enough you will spot him, or maybe one of his friends. Maybe you can identify different kinds of bats, like Percy does in the book. You are most likely to find a Percy, as Common Pipistrelles, like Percy, are the most common and widespread of the British bats. These are the bats you are most likely to see as they often roost in buildings and emerge early at dusk. There are two other species of pipistrelle bat in the UK, these are the soprano pipistrelle (also common) and the Nathusius’ pipistrelle (not common). So keep an eye out for Percy and any of his friends that may be swooping about!