Rhinolophidae: Horseshoe Bats

Our area is a real hot-spot for Horseshoe Bats in the UK

Horseshoe Bats Rhinolophidae [Gray, 1825] evolved some 40 million years ago and comprise a single genus Rhinolophus, of which at least 77 species are recognised in the Old World. Five species occur in Europe, of which three are limited to the area around the Mediterranean. The other two species occur in the UK, both of which have been recorded at Blagdon Lake recently.

Horseshoe Bats are largely insectivorous, and have a complex nose structure, through which they emit a highly specialised constant frequency echolocation note with short frequency modulations at beginning and end, used to produce a picture of their surroundings and detect prey. The sound is produced by the vocal chords, as with other mammals, but emitted through their noses, unlike the Vesper Bats Vespertilionidae which use their mouths. Other familes of bats also emit their calls through their noses rather than their mouths, which appears to be an example of convergent evolution with the obvious advantage of being able to consume prey items in the mouth and still echolocate through the nose. The ears of Horseshoe Bats have no tragus and are highly manoeuvrable, in order to pick up returning echolocation call information. They also have special adaptations of the inner ear.

In addition, females of the genus have false nipples in the pelvic region, that enable their young to cling to them in the period immediately after birth. The tail is folded dorsally when at rest.

Click on a link to go to each species account:

    1. Lesser Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus hipposideros [Bechstein, 1800]
    2. Greater Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum [Schreber, 1774]

Bibliography (sources of information)

Bat Conservation Trust website

Fisher, J., Francis, J. & Jones, Prof G. The Bats of Britain (an online guide). University of Bristol, School of Biological Sciences website

Russ, J. 2012. British Bat Calls A Guide to Species Identification. Pelagic Publishing, Exeter.

Updated 9 June, 2014