New living quarters for bats in the Thuringian Forest
At first glance they are easy to miss. Only when you really look for them do you see the entrances to the bat caves near what will be the overtaking station at Theuern in the administrative district of Sonneberg. The nine artificial caves are meant to provide a new home for countless bats. The caves were created on the slopes on either side of the cutting in which the overtaking station is located by using large limestone blocks and then covering them with finer-grained limestone.
In the shell-limestone foothills of the Thuringian Forest, these new bat caves have been created to compensate for the fact that the new line and the future overtaking station at Theuern encroach into the bats' habitat. Loss of habitat represents a major threat to bats.
The bat caves are as yet empty, but from October a variety of bat species – long-eared bats and barbastelle bats, in particular – will be hibernating next to the ICE high-speed line for the first time. They had to leave their original home when Deutsche Bahn began constructing this section of the line. The four tracks of the overtaking station will be cutting through the plateau for 1340 metres at a maximum depth of 27 metres.
The representative of the local conservation authority is optimistic that the bat caves will soon be populated. The caves are 6 to 8 meters long at a depth of around 1.50 metres, thus providing the ideal conditions for hibernating bats. The cave interiors are reminiscent of a mine, with countless crevices in which the bats can settle. The noise of passing trains will not disturb them. They also hibernate in church towers, for example, and are not disturbed by frequently ringing church bells.