How does a greater horseshoe bat find its way in the dark? What’s its favourite food? And why is a cow pat home to their favourite snack?
Find out all about this amazing animal.
Predator or Prey?Discover
While greater horseshoes are voracious hunters, they are also food for bigger animals. Sparrowhawks often pick off bats as they leave a roost, and owls will take them too. But their biggest enemy is the domestic cat who will take them in their roosts or as they fly low along hedges.Return
Name the foodFind Out
The Cockchafer beetle likes meadows rich in grasses and flowersNext Morsel
Name the foodFind Out What
Moths and Wasps
Moths and Beetles provide 75% of the greater horseshoe’s diet, without them bats couldn’t survive! Because the bats food are found in different places, greater horseshoes only live in landscapes where all these things can be found – like Devon.Next Fact
Name the foodA familiar beetle
The Dung Beetle
Dung (poo) is home to 40 species of dung beetle in Britain, which are a favourite food of greater horseshoes. Most important are those on cow patsReturn
How do bats feed?Knife and fork?
hawking and perch-hunting
Greater horseshoes feed in two main waysReturn
Hawking – catching and eating insects in the air during flight
Perch-hunting – flying out or ambushing from a hedge, catching the prey and returning to the hedge to dismember and eat it (while hanging upside down from a hedgerow tree)
HOW LONG CAN THE BATS LIVE FOR?OVER 5 YEARS?
Greater horseshoe bats can live for up to 30 years due to their large amounts of torpor and low numbers of young (one pup per year). For an animal that weighs just 30g (the same as 3 pound coins) this is very unusual – a 25g wood mouse lives for just 18 months.Return
Can bats see in the dark?Find Out How
Like all bats greater horseshoes use a system called echolocation, making high frequency calls as they fly and listen to the returning echoes to build up a sonic map of their surroundings. Most bats shout sounds from their mouths but the greater horseshoes unusual-shaped ‘nose-leaf’ allows them to concentrate the sounds really effectively like the foil behind a torch bulb.Return
- Wing bones
- Wing membrane
The horseshoe-shaped nose leaf focusses the nasal sonar in the same way as the foil behind a torch bulb – great for catching night-flying insects
Mostly made up of the hand bones - giving excellent control and dexterity in flight in tight places – try waggling your fingers to see how their wings can move
Light and tough (feels like a let-down balloon) this is the perfect material for a lightweight flyer – horseshoes also wrap this around them while they sleep like a leathery blanket
Tendons automatically close the toes so they can hang on even when asleep – the sharp claws make excellent hooks for hanging onto almost any surface
Keeping warm is essential for saving vital energy – the young are born naked so need a warm place to start life
Crunching through tough insect bodies needs sharp teeth like pins – this also stops the wriggly creepy crawlies escaping while they fly
Big ears listen out for their sonar bouncing back from everything around them – making a picture of their world from sound as there is no light to see