Rhinolophus ferrumequinum

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Paulo Barros
Rhinolophus ferrumequinum
Species authority: 
Schreber, 1774
(EN) Greater Horseshoe Bat; (FR) Grand Rhinolophe; (DE) Große Hufeisennase; (ES) Murciélago grande de herradura;
Species details: 

R. ferrumequinum is the largest European horseshoe bat with a wingspan of 330-400 mm and its soft fur changes from grey as a juvenile to grey-brown in adulthood. As with other Rhinolophidae, it has a complex nose structure which resembles a horseshoe and contributes towards its highly specialised echolocation system.

This species can be found in temperate Mediterranean habitats (e.g. hardwood and riparian forests, pastures) though it is present in some select central European areas. During summer, it roosts in warm attics of buildings and underground sites, while in winter the colonies tend to gather in large caves, tunnels and mines. Maternity colonies can reach 1 000 individuals though more often than not they are clusters of 100-200 individuals. 
An insectivorous species, R. ferrumequinum feeds on beetles, moths and other insects it catches using aerial hawking and flycatching techniques. The Greater Horseshoe bat is a rather sedentary species and the distance between its roosts ranges from 20-50 km.
IUCN status: 
Least concem
Population Trend: 

Decreasing according to the IUCN Red List.

Rhinolophus ferrumequinum distribution map
Geographic Range: 

This species occurs from North Africa and southern Europe through south-west Asia, the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Himalayas to south-eastern China, Korea, and Japan.


R. ferrumequinum has shown marked decline in northwest Europe, and become almost extinct in Germany. Reasons for the decline are the use of highly toxic pesticides in agriculture and forestry and timber preservative in roosts. Other threats include habitat loss and fragmentation, reduction of food availability, and roost disturbance.

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