Heidelberg Castle is the largest winter habitat for bats in northern Baden

It's a zoo!Conservation at Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle draws more than just visitors; it is also an important, and often the only, habitat for many wild castle inhabitants. The State Palaces and Gardens of Baden-Württemberg is particularly committed to protecting endangered species.

Pipistrelle bat

Light as a feather: the pipistrelle bat.

Of dwarfs and greater mouse-ears

Heidelberg Castle is the most important winter habitat for bats in northern Baden. It is home to the pipistrelle bat, which only weighs as much as two sugar cubes, as well as the greater mouse-eared bat, which, with a wingspan of 40 cm, is the largest native bat species. During the winter months, the bats hang in the cracks in the walls and the small holes in the ceilings of the casemates, towers and some castle structures. If their hibernation is disturbed, they will swarm out and lose their winter fat, which can be deadly for them. 

Common European toad

A European toad in search of snails.

European toads and grass frogs

In March, these amphibians crawl out of the damp forests above the castle and head for their spawning waters in the castle garden. By taking this route, they are spared many dangers, such as crossing streets. The females carry the males "piggyback" to the spawning waters, where the European toads deposit egg strings containing up to 8,000 eggs. Spawn clumps from grass frogs are deposited in heavily vegetated and shallow waters, and can cover several square meters.

Grass frog
A pair of toads

A grass frog and a pair of toads in the Heidelberg Castle gardens.

Alpine newts in a spawning pool

Alpine newts in a spawning pool.

Alpine newts and fire salamanders

Alpine newts are approximately 8 to 12 cm long and live in richly wooded areas. During their spring spawning period, they reside in the small waters and fountains in the Heidelberg Castle garden. During breeding season, the males have a bright blue coloring, while the females are more muted. In the summer months, Alpine newts, much like their cohabitant fire salamanders, find cool habitats during the hot days by crawling into the cracks of the castle's retaining walls.

Fire salamander

A fire salamander hides amongst greenery.

Parti-colored bat

Heidelberg visitor: the parti-colored bat.

How can you help?

Noise, light and commotion disturb hibernating bats. Please understand that certain events may not be possible between October and April in some areas of the castle. Please do not remove amphibians and reptiles from their habitat. Please be careful not to step on these protected amphibians at and after sunset as they cross paths on the castle grounds. Thank you for your support!