Mediterranean horseshoe bats occur mostly in Europe, including the Balkans and Mediterranean region. They are also found on the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. The northern most range includes Slovakia, northern Italy and southern France. They have also been reported in northern Africa.
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )
Mediterranean horseshoe bats are medium-sized, weighing betwen 8 and 17.5 g. Total length of these animals is 65 to 88 mm, and wingspan is between 300 and 320 mm. Females are often larger than males.
The horseshoe and lips of the bat are light brown, and the ears and wing membranes are light gray. The fur of this bat is sparse, becoming light gray toward the base. The back is a gray-brown, with a light reddish or pinkish tint. The underside is gray-white to a yellowish-white. The boundary between dorsal and ventral color is indistinct. Darker hairs may be present around the eyes.
The wings of the bat are broad (suggesting life in the forest), with the second phalanx of the fourth finger having more than twice the length of the first. When at rest, the third to fifth fingers are bent 180º at the joint between the first and second phalanges. Because of this, these bats cannot be completely wrapped by their wing membranes.
The species is nasal emitting, with an upper saddle process pointed and slightly curved downward. The lower saddle process is rounded when viewed from below, and is noticably shorter than the upper saddle process.
Range mass: 8 to 17.5 g.
Range length: 65 to 88 mm.
Range wingspan: 300 to 320 mm.
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Mediterranean horseshoe bats inhabit warm, forested regions in foothills and mountains. They favor karst formations with numerous caves located near water sources. They also favor broadleaved woodlands and olive groves. They spend summers roosting in caves and underground shelters. In more northern regions, warm attics are used.
Habitat Regions: temperate
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; mountains
Habitat and Ecology
Mediterranean horseshoe bats emerge in late twilight to feed on moths and other insects. They hunt at low altitudes on warm slopes and in relatively dense stands of trees or shrubs. The flight of the bat is slow and agile, and they have the ability to hover.
All members of the family Rhinolophidae use echolocation to find prey items. They are known to emit FM-CF-FM echolocation calls. These bats produce high frequency, highly directional calls in the range of 101 to 108 kHz, a frequency beyond the ability of tympanate moths to detect. The calls last approximately 20 to 30 ms.
Animal Foods: insects
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )
Mediterranean horseshoe bats consume large quantities of moths and other insects. They therefore affect insect communities negatively, but probably have an indirect positive effect on plant communities, by eliminating some herbivorous insects.
No information on predation is available
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
All members of the family Rhinolophidae emit FM-CF-FM echolocation calls. The bat produces high frequency, highly directional calls in the range of 101 to 108 kHz, this high frequency cannot be heard by tympanate moths, one of their favorite foods. The calls last approximately 20 to 30 ms. However, it should be stressed that this echolocation is used for foraging, not for communicating with conspecifics.
Because these bats are nocturnal and roost in dark caves, it is unlikely that they use a lot of visual signals in their communications with conspecifics. Other members of the genus are reported to use some vocal communication, Because these bats come into frequent contact with one another in roosts, it is likely that there is some tactile communication. Communcation through scent has not been documented, but may occur, as these are mammals.
Communication Channels: tactile ; acoustic
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; ultrasound ; echolocation ; chemical
The lifespan of Mediterranean horseshoe bats is unknown. It is difficult to speculate on what the lifespan may be, as there is great variability within the genus. Some species on the Malay penninsula are reported to live for only about 6 or 7 years. However, one individual of the species Rhinolophus ferrumequinum in France was reported to have lived in excess of 27 years.
Not much detailed information is available regarding mating system of this species. Maternity roosts often contain 50 to 400 females with males often present.
Information on reproduction is sparse. Breeding is thought to occur once per year. Females give birth to one offspring which weighs approximately 4 grams at birth, and is ready to fly in early to mid August. In Bulgaria, young are ready to fly in mid July.
Within the genus Rhinolophus, some species are known to undergo delayed fertilization. Mating may occur in winter, and gestation, which is usually about 7 weeks, occurs in early spring. Most births in this genus occur in late spring or early Summer. Given that the young are flying in July or August, it is likely that Rhinolophus eurylate is similar.
In species of Rhinolophus for which data are available, lactation lasts for approximately one month. Sexual maturity is usually reached by two years of age.
Breeding interval: The animals breed once annually.
Breeding season: The breeding season of this species has not been reported, but is likely to occur in winter or in early spring.
Range number of offspring: 1 (high) .
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average gestation period: 7 weeks.
Average weaning age: 1 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 years.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous
No information about parental care is available, but in general females care for young in bats. Young bats are typically atricial, and in this genus, lactation is thought to last for about one month. The role of males in parental care has not been reported.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Rhinolophus euryale
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Rhinolophus euryale
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
Rhinolophus euryale is the rarest of all European rhinolophids, and is classified as "Vulnerable" in the IUCN Red List. Data are scarce on population estimates, however, it is known there was a 70% decline in numbers in France between 1940 and 1980. There was also a serious population decrease in Slovakia. Because of the use of pesticides by humans, many species of insectivorous bats have suffered, and the timing of decline in this species corresponds to the increased use of pesticides after World War II.
Rhinolophus euryale seems particularly sensitive to human disturbance, and because it mainly roosts in underground shelters, including caves, protection of such sites is a key conservation strategy.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
There is little information on population trends outside Europe, although it is suspected that continuing declines have also occurred in at least parts of the non-European range. For example, in Iran the species is no longer found in caves which 30 years ago held 20,000 individuals of different species (M. Sharifi pers. comm. 2005).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There are no known adverse affects of Mediterranean horseshoe bats on humans.
Mediterranean horseshoe bats provide insect control within the ecosystem.
Mediterranean horseshoe bat
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The head and body are normally between 43 and 58 mm, with a 22-30 mm tail. The wingspan of R. euryale is between 300 and 320 mm, with a standard weight between 8 and 17.5 grams. The upper connecting process is pointed and slightly bent downwards, and is distinctly longer than the lower connecting process, which is broadly rounded when seen from below.
The fur is fluffy, with a light grey base. The dorsal side is grey-brown, with sometimes a slight reddish tinge, while the ventral side is grey-white or yellow-white. 
R. euryale tends to live in warm, wooded areas in foothills and mountains, preferring limestone areas with numerous caves and nearby water. Summar roosts and nurseries are in caves, although sometimes in warm attacks in the north. Roosts are frequently shared with other horseshoe bat species, although without any kind of intermingling.
There is little known information about the Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat's reproductive cycle. Nurseries normally hold between 50 and 400 females, with males sometimes present.
Mediterranean Horsehoe Bats leave their roosts in late dusk, hunting low over the ground on warm hillsides but also in relatively dense tree cover, preying on moths and other small insects.
- Chiroptera Specialist Group 1996. Rhinolophus euryale. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 30 July 2007.
- Schober, Wilfried; Eckard Grimmberger (1989). Dr. Robert E. Stebbings, ed. A Guide to Bats of Britain and Europe (1st ed.). UK: Hamlyn Publishing Group. ISBN 0-600-56424-X.
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