Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum)


The greater horseshoe bat can easily be identified as a horseshoe bat due to its uniquely shaped upper saddle process or noseleaf, the upper part of which is pointed while the lower part is horseshoe shaped. The third and fourth metacarpal bones in the wings are also shorter than those of its relatives. It is the largest of the horseshoe bats that occupy Europe measuring an average of 57-71mm, and weighing between 17 and 34 g. In terms of coloration, the greater horseshoe bat has a thick, brown fur with a tint of red on its dorsal side, whilst having a lighter grey color on its ventral side. Another identification feature, is the bats leaf-shaped ears, with a pointed tip in the top corner.


The greater horseshoe bat resides and roosts in caves. Whilst this species uses caves throughout the year, it is common practice for females to form maternity colonies in manmade buildings during the summer months. The bat is suited to habitats that are warm, and have surrounding water, shrubs and trees.


The greater horseshoe bat is an insectivorous species that feeds mostly on large insects such as moths and beetles. Like many other bats, this species use echolocation to find and catch their prey. However, this species produces their low frequency echolocation calls through the nose, rather than through the mouth as most bats do.

Protection Status

The bat is currently listed as "least concern" on the IUCN Red List, however, this does not mean their population isn’t threatened. Its population is decreasing dramatically, with a loss of 90% of their numbers in the past 100 years. Threats to this species include destruction of habitats and roosting sites. Insecticides are also a threat to the greater horseshoe bat, as they eradicate insects, thereby removing the greater horseshoe bats main source of food.

Interesting facts

There are six subspecies of R. ferrumequinum: R.f. ferrumequinum, R.f. creticus, R.f. proximus, R.f. tragatus, and R.f. nippon. They are found in Europe and northwestern Africa, Crete, southwestern Asia to Kashmir, northern India and southwestern China, and northern and central China, Korea and Japan, respectively

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