Bat – Lesser Horseshoe

Lesser Horseshoe Bat

The Lesser Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) is one of the smallest British species, being around plum-sized. Like the greater horseshoe bat, it has a complex noseleaf. At rest this bat hangs with the wings wrapped around the body.

Lesser horseshoe bats have an almost constant frequency call, about 110kHz. On a bat detector a series of continuous warbles can be heard.

Lesser horseshoe bats were originally cave dwellers, but summer colonies are now usually found in the roofs of larger rural houses and stable blocks, or in nearby cellars, caves or tunnels where the bats can go in severe weather. They prefer access through an opening that allows uninterrupted flight to the roof apex. The colony may shift between attics, cellars and chimneys throughout the summer, depending on the weather. Many sites only have one or a few bats hibernating in them and it is rare to find large numbers in a site. Lesser horseshoe bats do not cluster together but hang a little apart from their neighbours.

These bats are sensitive to disturbance and twist their bodies as they scan their surroundings before flying off. They feed amongst vegetation in sheltered lowland valleys looking for flies, mainly midges, small moths, caddis flies, lacewings, beetles, small wasps and spiders.. They rarely fly more than five metres above the ground. Large prey is often taken back to a temporary night roost or sometimes dealt with whilst the bat is hanging in trees.
The adult lesser horseshoe bat has a pinky buff-brown fur while the juveniles a greyish fur which stays this colour until it is one year old. The head and body length is 35mm – 45mm and the wingspan is 200mm – 250mm. The lesser horseshoe weighs 5g – 9g.

Mating takes place during autumn, sometimes later in winter. Maternity roosts are almost always formed in buildings and may be occupied from April, though most breeding females do not arrive until May. Maternity colonies are mixed-sex, with up to a fifth of the colony being male. Approximately half to two-thirds of the females in the nursery roost give birth to a single young between mid-June and mid-July. The suckling of the young probably lasts four to five weeks, by which time the young can fly from the roost. Young are completely independent six weeks. Most young are sexually mature in their second autumn.

In Britain all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, by both domestic and international legislation.

Many thanks to the Bat Conservation Trust for sharing this information; for more detailed reading please visit their website below.

Photo Credit: © Copyright Bat Conservation Trust