Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros)


Rhinolophus hipposideros is a slightly smaller species than its close relative Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (the greater horseshoe bat). The lesser horseshoe bat measures on average    35- 45mm in length, and weighs between 5 and 9 g. Like all horseshoe bats, the lesser horseshoe is named this way because of its horseshoe shaped nose. The ears of Rhinolophus hipposideros can also be used in identification. Their ears have a pointed tip and are without a tragus. In terms of coloration, the lesser horseshoe has fluffy brown fur on its dorsal side, and grey/white fur on the ventral side. Juveniles of this species can be separated from adults as juveniles have grey fur all over their bodies.


Rhinolophus hipposideros used to roost exclusively in caves, however, with increased levels of urbanization and residential buildings in its habitat, it can now be found roosting in human dwellings such as roofs, attics and cellars. Unlike their larger relatives, these bats can occupy and use small crevices as roosting sites. Lesser horseshoe bats forage and feed in valleys, woodland, foothills and hedgerows and so roosting sites are often found close to these types of habitat.


Lesser horseshoe bats are an insectivorous species that use echolocation to source their prey. Insects in their diet include mosquitoes, flies, beetles and spiders. These bats usually forage near water, or in damp forested areas. The foraging strategy employed by Rhinolophus hipposideros is to fly relatively low to the ground and snatch prey whilst in flight, however they are also able to catch prey from branches, rocks and bushes.

Protection Status

The bat is currently listed as "least concern" on the IUCN Red List. Despite this it is in decline due to major threats to the species that include disruption and destruction of roosting sites by increased tourism and cave visits. As well as conversion of attics and loft space in human dwellings destroys roost sites. Along with this, the use of insecticides in agriculture and gardens reduces prey numbers for lesser horseshoe bats, whose population subsequently declines.

Interesting facts

Lesser horseshoe bats do not migrate and only travel an average of 5 to 10 km between summer and winter roosts. However the longest distance recorded traveled by a lesser horseshoe bat is 153 km.

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