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species > Bat > Lesser horseshoe bat

17th April 2015

In Britain, the lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) is now restricted to Wales, the West Midlands and south-west England.


In the early 1900s, it was found as far north as Yorkshire and along the south coast of England as far east as Kent. Its British population has recovered strongly in recent decades and now numbers around 50,000 animals. Unlike the greater horseshoe bat, the lesser horseshoe bat is found in Ireland where an estimated population of between 9,000 and 10,000 individuals is restricted to the mid-west and south-west of the country.


Our work

Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) has sought to conserve horseshoe bats through:

  • the establishment of bat roost reserves in both Britain and Ireland;
  • ongoing monitoring of the populations of horseshoe bats in key roosts;
  • carrying out work to secure, maintain and improve both hibernation and summer roosts;
  • major studies of the roosting and foraging ecology of the species;
  • undertaking a major assessment of the foraging areas and commuting routes surrounding key lesser horseshoe bat breeding roosts;
  • surveys of buildings in south-west England, the West Midlands, Wales and Ireland for undiscovered horseshoe bat roosts;
  • training workshops based around its reserves and using the Lesser Horseshoe Conservation Handbook to inform ecological consultants and Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations (SNCO) staff about appropriate mitigation measures for the species.


Useful links

  • Read about our research on the impact of greater horseshoe bat presence on lesser horseshoe bat roosts
  • Learn more about the lesser horseshoe bat via our Resources
  • Read this report on recent research to identify potential landscape corridors for the lesser horseshoe bat in Ireland
  • Read about our past projects Impacts of Street Lighting and Our Beacon for Bats


Photo: Lesser horseshoe bat ©Frank Greenaway

Distribution map: ©The Mammal Society

Key information

English name: Lesser horseshoe bat

Latin name: Rhinolophus hipposideros

Number of young: One, called a pup, born mid June to early July.

Diet: Small insects including midges, moths, craneflies, lacewings.

Habitat: Summer roosts in old, generally uninhabited buildings; winter roosts in caves, cellars and mines; forages in deciduous woodland and in riparian vegetation.

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