Become a volunteer bat roost visitor
Find out what a volunteer bat roost visitor (VBRV) does and how to get trained and licenced to carry out bat roost visits.
Applies to England
Natural England’s volunteer bat roost visitors (VBRVs) visit bat roosts in homes, places of worship and other public buildings to:
- reassure people affected or distressed by bats
- advise on timing and methods for building maintenance and pest control
- reduce the possibility of bats being excluded from their roosts
VBRVs play an important role in bat conservation.
How to become a VBRV
You cannot go on bat roost visits as a VBRV on your own until you’ve got a level 1 survey licence.
To get this you must be trained by a trainer with a VBRV level 2 survey licence.
You must be at least 18 years old to train for a VBRV level 1 survey licence.
Find a trainer
Before registering as a trainee VBRV you must find a registered and licensed trainer who’s willing to train you. Contact your local bat group to find out if they have a trainer available. If they do not, Natural England can try to find you a trainer from neighbouring bat groups.
VBRV trainers will use their experience and judgement to decide if they can train you. They should give you a clear and reasonable explanation for their decision if they do not want to take you on. If you’re not satisfied with their explanation please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register as a trainee
When you’ve found a trainer, fill in the expression of interest form to register as a trainee VBRV. Natural England will then email you an induction pack and invite you to a telephone induction.
You’ll need to go on bat roost visits with your trainer and other licenced VBRVs until you’ve got the right knowledge, skills and experience to receive your licence.
You’ll also need to complete health and safety training. You’ll be emailed 4 modules to complete, plus an online test. The modules include:
- asbestos awareness
- risk management
- working at heights
- dealing with aggression and violence
If you’ve already done health and safety training, Natural England may agree that you do not need to do these modules. Email email@example.com to find out if the health and safety training you’ve done meets their requirements.
How long it will take for you to finish your training and get your VBRV licence depends on:
- previous experience
- how many bat roost visits you’ve completed
You will not receive a licence if you do not reach the level of competence and skill required.
You do not need rabies vaccination if you’re a trainee VBRV. This is because your main role will be to observe and do surveys.
If you’re a level 1 or 2 licensed VBRV, you must either:
- be fully vaccinated against rabies before you visit a bat roost
- do an antibody test to prove you have enough antibodies to protect you against rabies - check guidelines on timing of rabies boosters based on antibody levels
You can get vaccinated or have an antibody test at a GP surgery.
If you’re charged for your vaccination you can claim it back if you’re a level 1 or 2 VBRV. Ask your Natural England volunteer supervisor for an expenses claim form.
VBRVs who are paid to work with bats must pay for rabies vaccinations.
Antibody tests are not free to VBRVs.
Bat workers’ manual
Read the bat workers’ manual for:
- bat protection law
- guidance on handling and identifying bats
Contact Natural England
Email Natural England at firstname.lastname@example.org for:
- more information about becoming a VBRV
- health and safety advice
Last updated 17 March 2023 + show all updates
Updated guidance on how to find a trainer, register as a trainee and what volunteer bat roost visitor training includes.
Update to rabies advice
Updated summary of bat advice service contract.