Family: Rhinolophidae

Scientific name: Rhinolophus ferrumequinum

Common name: Greater horseshoe bat

IUCN status: Least Concern (LC)

MSJ Red list status: C-1


General morphology: Fur is thick and glossy, pale brown or dark orange, nose-leaf is present, the connecting process of the intermediate nose-leaf is broadly rounded above, posterior margin of posterior nose-leaf forms a wedge; lower labial plate has one groove and is divided into two parts; ears are large and lack a tragus; the second finger lacks phalanges, plagiopatagium is attached to the base of the metatarsal, ankle or lower portion of the tibia (Yoshiyuki, 1989). Wings are short and broad (Yoshiyuki, 1989; Fukui et al., 2011). Females have a pair of functional pectorals and a pair of pseudomammillae anterior to the vulva. The largest rhinolophid in Japan.


Diet: Prey includes Diptera, Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Trichoptera, Plecoptera, Odonata and Hemiptera (Kuramoto, 1972; Tomisawa, 1990; Funakoshi & Takeda, 1998; Funakoshi & Maeda, 2003; Ishida et al., 2010). Feeds mainly on Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, and Diptera. Hibernating bats often prey on troglophilic moths within caves (Sano, 2006) and sometimes forage outside caves (Sano, 2001).


Habitat: Widely use natural caves, abandoned mines, bomb shelters, unused tunnels, underground channels, and buildings as day-roosts (Sawada, 1994; Sano, 2000). Most common cave-dwelling bat species in Japan.

Echolocation calls: FM-CF-FM call structure (Kinoshita et al., 2014)


Kuramoto, T. (1972). Studies on bats at the Akiyoshi-dai Plateau, with special reference to the ecological and phylogenic aspects. Bulletin of the Akiyoshi-dai Science Museum, 8, 7-119.

Kuramoto, T. (1977). Mammals of Japan (15): order Chiroptera, genus Rhinolophus. Mammalian Science, 17(2), 31-57.

Irie, T. (1982). Survey of bats in central and southern Kyushu (II)- Bats in the Hole of the New Land. Character Peninsula Nature and Culture, 2, 105-112.

Yoshiyuki, M. (1989). A systematic study of the Japanese Chiroptera. 242pp. National Science Museum: Tokyo. 

Tomisawa, A. (1990). List of moths fallen prey to bats. Journal of Research on Moths, 120, 65-68.

Sawada, I. (1994). A list of caves of bat habitation in Japan. Journal of the Natural History of Japan, 2, 53-80.

Funakoshi, K., & Takeda, Y. (1998). Food habits of sympatric insectivorous bats in southern Kyushu, Japan. Mammal study, 23, 49-62.

Sano, A. (2000). Distribution of four cave-dwelling bat species in Ishikawa Prefecture, with references to utilization of roosts. Mammalian Science, 40, 167-173. 

Sano, A. (2001). A population study of Japanese greater horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, in the Izumo mines, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. Bulletin of the Mie Prefecture Science and Technology Promotion Center (Forestry), 13, 1-68.

Funakoshi, K., & Maeda, F. (2003). Foraging activity and night-roost usage in the Japanese greater horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum nippon. Mammal study. 28, 1-10. 

Sano, A. (2006). Impact of predation by a cave-dwelling bat, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, on the diapausing population of the troglophilic moth, Goniocraspidum pryeri. Ecological Research, 21, 321-324.

Ishida, M., Matsumura, S., Kinugasa, M., & Yamanaka, A.  (2010). Usage frequency of night roosts and diet preference of the greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum in the Akiyoshi-dai Plateau, Yamaguchi, Japan. Journal of the Speleological Society of Japan, 35, 11-17.

Fukui, D., Hirao, T., Murakami, M., & Hirakawa, H. (2011). Effects of treefall gaps created by windthrow on bat assemblages in a temperate forest. Forest Ecology and Management, 261(9), 1546-1552.

Kinoshita, Y., Ogata, D., Watanabe, Y., Riquimaroux, H., Ohta, T., & Hiryu, S. (2014). Prey pursuit strategy of Japanese horseshoe bats during an in-flight target-selection task. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 200(9), 799-809.


The Island Bat Research Group (IBRG) is an international multi-disciplinary unit. It has been involved for several years in the research and conservation of endangered insular bats in Japan and other island countries.


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© 2018 by Christian E. Vincenot.

Picture featured on this website were shot by members of the group, but also by close friends and collaborators. Therefore, reuse of these pictures is subject to prior approval by the IBRG to insure proper credit can be given to authors.