Pipistrellus bats are usually among the first bat species to appear in the evening and this, along with their jerky, erratic flight, is usually considered one of the defining characteristics of the genus (3). Like other pipistrelles, the Madeira pipistrelle is mainly insectivorous, feeding mostly on flying insects such as small moths and flies (1) (4).
The Madeira pipistrelle uses echolocation to detect its prey, emitting calls at a frequency of around 45 to 47 kilohertz (2). The sound bounces off surrounding objects, including insects, enabling the bat to accurately pinpoint the position of its prey (4). The Madeira pipistrelle probably catches its prey by aerial hawking, whereby the bat catches flying insects on the wing, or it may pluck prey from vegetation or trawl the surface of water while in flight (4).
In addition to using echolocation, the Madeira pipistrelle will broadcast a range of social calls. These calls are produced more frequently late at night or when temperatures are lower, at times when competition for prey is more intense (5). It is thought that social calls are used primarily as a way of defending a feeding patch, but they may also be used in general communication and for attracting a mate (4) (5).
Like most bats, the Madeira pipistrelle is likely to roost in a range of sites, from tree hollows to rock crevices, buildings and even bird’s nests (1) (2) (4). Species in the genus Pipistrellus are not particularly gregarious and will usually roost alone or in small groups. Some species do however form small maternity colonies (3) (10), and pregnant females frequently segregate into single-sex groups (10). The maternity sites of bats are often used year after year (10).
Very little is known about the breeding biology of the Madeira pipistrelle. Mating is likely to occur in late summer, probably between September and October (9). Like many bats, the reproductive cycle is probably interrupted by a period of hibernation through the winter (10). Sperm transferred by the male during mating is stored in the female reproductive tract during hibernation, with fertilisation of the eggs delayed until the spring (10). Female Madeira pipistrelles have been observed suckling their young, which are fed on the female’s milk, in June and July (9). Like other pipistrelles, the Madeira pipistrelle gives birth to one or two young (3) (10).