Greater Horseshoe Bat

Greater Horseshoe Bat

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Rhinolophus ferrumequinum
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
30 yrs
WEIGHT
up to 30 g
LENGTH
57-71 mm
WINGSPAN
350-400 mm

The Greater horseshoe bat is an insectivorous bat found in Europe, Northern Africa, and Asia. It is the largest of the horseshoe bats in Europe and is thus easily distinguished from other species. It has a distinctive noseleaf, which has a pointed upper part and a horseshoe-shaped lower part. Its horseshoe noseleaf helps to focus the ultrasound it uses to 'see'. The fur of the Greater horseshoe bat is soft and fluffy, with the base of hairs being light grey, the dorsal side hair grey-brown, and the ventral side grey-white; juvenile bats have more of an ash-grey tint to their fur. Wing membranes and ears are light grey-brown.

No

Nocturnal

Ca

Carnivore

In

Insectivores

Ar

Arboreal

Pr

Predator

Al

Altricial

Te

Terrestrial

Po

Polygyny

So

Social

No

Not a migrant

Hi

Hibernating

G

starts with

Distribution

Geography

Greater horseshoe bats range from North Africa and southern Europe through south-west Asia, the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Himalayas to south-eastern China, Korea, and Japan. Preferred foraging habitats include pastures, deciduous temperate woodland, Mediterranean and sub-mediterranean shrubland, and woodlands. In northern parts of their range, Horseshoe bats use warm underground sites, both natural and artificial, as summer roosts as well as attics. They also live in montane forests among the mountains and valleys of the Himalaya in South Asia and roost in caves, old temples, old and ruined buildings in tight clusters.

Greater Horseshoe Bat habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Greater horseshoe bats are social; they roost in colonies but hunt solitarily. The bat typically leaves its roost at dusk. Its flying is made up of slow, fluttering travel with short glides, normally between 0.3 and 6 meters above the ground. Little hunting is done during wet and windy weather. It hunts in terrain with poor tree cover such as hillsides and cliff faces, and in gardens where it locates insects from a resting place and then intercepts them. It may also pick food up off the ground while still in flight, and indeed drinks during low-level flight or while hovering. Horseshoe bats hibernate in cold underground sites during the winter, however, populations in the southern parts of their range are active throughout the year. Greater horseshoe bats are sedentary and commonly travel distances of 20-30 km between winter and summer roosts, with the longest recorded movement being 180 km (110 mi). They use frequencies for echolocation that lie between 69-83 kHz, have the most energy at 81 kHz, and have an average duration of 37.4 ms.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Great horseshoe bats are carnivores (insectivores). Their diet includes moths, beetles, flies, wasps, bees, and cave spiders.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
fall, spring
PREGNANCY DURATION
80 days
BABY CARRYING
1 pup
INDEPENDENT AGE
7-8 weeks
FEMALE NAME
female
MALE NAME
male
BABY NAME
pup

Greater horseshoe bats are polygynous meaning that males mate with multiple females. However, some females may mate with the same male partner over successive years, indicating monogamy or mate fidelity. Their breeding season takes place in the fall and may also occur in the spring. During the mating period, females visit males that are roosting in small caves. Females raise their young in communal maternity roosts and show strong fidelity to the sites where they themselves were born. Each season, a female gives birth to 1 pup usually in June or July. When they are 7 days old, pups can open their eyes and start to fly at the age of 3 or 4 weeks. The young usually leave the roost when they are 7 or 8 weeks old. Female bats become reproductively mature at the age of 3 years while males reach maturity at 2 years of age. Some females, however, may not breed until their 5th year.

Population

Population threats

The major threats to the Greater horseshoe bat include fragmentation/isolation of habitats, change of management regime of deciduous forests and agricultural areas, loss of insects caused by pesticides, and disturbance and loss of underground habitats and attics. In South Asia, deforestation is mostly caused by logging operations and the conversion of land for agricultural and other uses.

Population number

There is no overall population estimate available for the Greater horseshoe bat. However, there are estimates of its populations in specific areas: in Russian parts of the Caucasus summer colonies include around 30-200 individuals (up to 400 individuals), and winter clusters include up to 500 individuals; in the UK - around 5,000 individuals; in Romania - up to 800 individuals; in Switzerland - around 200 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.

References

1. Greater Horseshoe Bat on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_horseshoe_bat
2. Greater Horseshoe Bat on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/19517/21973253

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