Greater horseshoe bat
Horseshoe bats have a horseshoe-shaped fleshy structure called a nose-leaf surrounding the nose, which amplifies the ultrasonic calls that the bat emits when searching for food.
The maximum age recorded was 30 years.
Body length: 5.6-7.5cm, Wingspan: 35-40cm, Weight: 17-34g.
As well as the 'nose-leaf', they have two other muscular structures on the face that aid in echolocation - the lancet and the sella. Horseshoe bats have light brown/grey fur, with a reddish tinge. The wings and ears are light grey and they have tiny eyes. Juveniles have pale grey fur.
Greater horseshoe bats range across Europe, Asia and North Africa. In the UK they are restricted to the south west of England and south Wales.
They inhabit forest, open and cultivated land.
Using echolocation, they hunt small to medium-sized insects such as beetles, moths and flies.
Greater horseshoe bats hibernate from October to May, usually in large colonies in caves or crevices. Sometimes, the whole colony may move from one hibernaculum (hibernation site) to another. They wrap their wings around their bodies as they roost. There may be 50-600 individuals in a colony.
Greater horseshoe bats emerge from their roost just after sunset to hunt for food. They may return to their roost before a second feed at dawn. When hunting, they fly relatively slowly and low to the ground.
Greater horseshoe bats breed from September to October. Females give birth to one young, after a gestation period of 75 days, which is weaned after about seven weeks. The mother hangs upside down while giving birth and the infant is born into her overlapped wings.
Greater horseshoe bats are listed as Lower Risk by the 2000 IUCN Red List. In the UK, they are thought to have declined by 90 per cent over the last 100 years. This may be due to the disturbance of roosts and changing farming practises (e.g. use of pesticides has caused a declined in insect prey).