Shedding light on bat behaviour: conservation research project

Lesser horseshoe bat


LesserhorseshoebatThis project focuses on the lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) one of the smallest UK bats. They weigh around 4-9 grams (the size of a plum) with a wingspan of 225-250mm. Lesser horseshoe bats are one of only two species of Rhinolophus (horseshoe) bat in the UK, which are characterised by the horseshoe shaped nose leaf around the nostrils. They hang freely from their feet often with thier wings wrapped around their body.

Biology & breeding

lesserhorsesshoebatLesser horseshoe bats echolocate through their nostrils and the disc like shape of the noseleaf is thought to increase the directionality of echolocation calls. With very short wings lesser horseshoe bats are highly maneuverable in flight prefering to fly close to vegetation (Dietz et al. 2006).

Mating occurs in the autumn and females store the semen over winter, giving birth to a single young during June and July (Schober & Grimmberger 1993). Juvenille bats are characterised by grey coloured fur and emit lower echolocation calls than adults (Jones et al. 1992). Females often carry juvenilles with them during foraging trips just after birth. Juvenilles are held upside down by their mothers, grasping on to the pelvic nipples with thier teeth (Schofield 2008). Young become independant at five weeks (Scholfield & Mitchel-Jones 2004) and live for on average of seven years (Harmata 1992).