Atlas der Säugetiere Nordrhein-Westfalens
AG Säugetierkunde in NRW
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The Lesser Horseshoe Bat is unmistakable with its noseleaf and small size (Forearm length at most 40 mm). Nevertheless, we frequently receive reports about bats that supposedly are horseshoe bats, perhaps because some people believe the name is equivalent to “bat“.
Adapted to warmer climatic regimes the Lesser Horseshoe Bat is a species for which Germany already belongs to the northern marginal areas. Not emerging until dark, Lesser Horseshoe Bats prefer to hunt in richly structured forests. For hibernation they move into caves and mine shafts where they always hang openly. When this happens, not much can be seen of their characteristic noseleaf because the bat always encloses itself with its wings. But Lesser Horseshoe Bats do not conduct large migrations between their summer habitats and their hibernacula.
Until the 1960s, Lesser Horseshoe Bats belonged to the North Rhine-Westphalian fauna, and in the first half of the 20th century; it was always a significant part of the hibernating bats encountered in the caves. However, their occurrence in NRW was limited to the mid-elevation mountains. One of the reasons for this may be the requirement of the species for their summer and winter roosts to be close together given that the hill country offers numerous caves and old mine shafts for hibernation. The almost complete population decline of the Lesser Horseshoe Bat, especially in Germany can mainly be attributed to the massive use of chlorinated hydrocarbons as insecticides after World War II. Given their marginal distribution in Germany,perhaps, these populations have reacted particularly sensitively to disadvantageous changes, for example with regard to climate. Right now, the populations of the species in Saxony and Thuringia seem to have not just stabilized but even somewhat recovered, which in the face of the current climatic development might even lead to the species re-emerging again in NRW.
Vierhaus H (2021): Kleine Hufeisennase (Rhinolophus hipposideros).In: AG Säugetierkunde NRW — Online-Atlas of the mammals of North Rhine-Westphalia. Downloaded from saeugeratlas-nrw.lwl.org on 2021/04/11