Sunday 19 May
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus clivosus)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat description
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat is a medium-sized bat with soft, fluffy, greyish-white fur and some slightly brown areas around the face (5). Horseshoe bats (species in the Rhinolophidae family) are named for the horseshoe-shaped noseleaf, a fleshy structure surrounding the nose, common to many bats (6) (7). The function of the noseleaf is to focus the ultrasonic echolocation pulses that are emitted from the nose, helping the bat to locate prey (7) (8). The noseleaf of Geoffroy's horseshoe bat is made up of folds of skin which are sparsely covered with hair (5). Geoffroy's horseshoe bat has very small eyes and large, pale greyish-brown ears, which are almost the same size as the head (5). The females of this species tend to be larger and heavier than the males (4).
- Total length: 7.2 - 9.7 cm (2) (3)
- Tail length: 2.5 - 3.2 cm (2)
- Average wingspan: 33 cm (4)
- Average weight: 18 g (4)
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat biology
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat lives in groups, congregating in large colonies of around 200 or more individuals to roost (10). In the coastal Western Cape Province of South Africa, colonies containing a staggering 10,000 individuals have been recorded (7), and it may also share caves with other bat species, such as the cape horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus capensis) (7). Leaving its roost at night, Geoffroy's horseshoe bat flies low as it forages for food (10). It feeds primarily on insects, especially long-horned beetles, moths and grasshoppers (11), although it has been reported that females may have a more specialised diet of just moths and butterflies (12). Like other bats, Geoffroy's horseshoe bat uses echolocation in order to detect its prey, emitting calls in the range of 84 to 86 kilohertz (4).
In the temperate regions of its range, Geoffroy's horseshoe bat may hibernate over winter, and prepares for this period of dormancy by storing excess amounts of body fat during summer. Remarkably, this species is able reduce its heart beat to just two beats per minute when hibernating (9).
In South Africa, Geoffroy's horseshoe bat mates in the month of May; however, ovulation and fertilisation normally occurs in August. During the intervening winter season, when the bat may hibernate, the female is able to store the male’s sperm (3). In December (the summer), when there is an abundance of prey, the female gives birth to a single young (7).Top
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat range
This species is widely distributed in northern, eastern and southern parts of Africa and in southwest Asia, including the Arabian Peninsula (1).Top
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat habitat
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat inhabits a vast array of different environments, from savanna and woodland to deserts (1). It roosts in caves, the crevices of rocks, hollow trees, old mines, and buildings (1) (2) (9).Top
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat status
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat threats
Although Geoffroy's horseshoe bat is not known to be facing any major threats, and as such is not considered to be at risk of extinction, some populations are affected by indirect poisoning from the use of insecticides and pesticides, and by disturbance of their roosting sites (1). The clearance of forests, the destruction of caves, and changes in housing design all destroy potential roosting sites. In Jordan, for example, houses were once constructed using stone and mud and had areas, such as galleries or storage areas, which were suitable for roosting bats. Such houses are now being replaced by modern houses, which are less suitable (13).Top
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat conservation
Geoffroy's horseshoe bat is present in a number of protected areas (1), such as De Hoop Nature Reserve in South Africa (4). In addition, in some countries, such as Jordan, bats are protected by legislation (1). It has been recommended that the impact of insecticides on Geoffroy's horseshoe bat should be investigated, along with alternative methods of insect control (1), which would help allow humans and bats to live successfully together.Top
Find out more
To find out about efforts to conserve bats around the world see:
Bat Conservation International:
Bat Conservation Trust:
Checked (24/08/10) by Dr Francis Gilbert, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham.
- Detecting objects by reflected sound. Used by bats for orientation and to detect and locate prey.
- The fusion of a male’s sperm and a female’s egg to produce an embryo, which grows into a new individual.
- Hibernation is a winter survival strategy characteristic of some mammals in which an animal’s metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer.
- In female mammals, the release of a ripe egg from an ovary (one of the paired reproductive organs).
IUCN Red List (April, 2010)
- Hoath, R. (2009) A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, Egypt.
- Bernard, R.T.F. (1983) Reproduction of Rhinolophus clivosus (Microchiropetera) in Natal, South Africa. Zeitchrift fur Saugetierkunde, 48(6): 321-329.
- Jacobs, D.S., Barclay, R.M.R. and Walker, M.H. (2007) The allometry of echolocation call frequencies of insectivorous bats: why do some species deviate from the pattern? Oecologia, 152: 583–594.
Dietz, C. (2005) Illustrated Identification Key to the Bats of Egypt. Electronic Publication, Tuebingen, Germany. Available at:
- Altringham, J. (1999) Bats, Biology and Behaviour. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Apps, P. (2000) Smither’s Mammals of South Africa: A Field Guide. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
- Neuweiler, G. (2000) The Biology of Bats. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Mills, G. and Hes, L. (1997) The Complete Book of Southern African Mammals. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
- Wassif, K. (1953) On a collection of mammals from northern Sinai. Bulletin de l’Institut du Désert d’Egypte, 3: 107-118.
- Feldman, R., Whitaker Jr, J.O. and Yom-Yom, Y. (2000) Dietary composition and habitat use in a desert insectivorous bat community in Israel. Acta Chiropterologica, 2: 15-22.
- Benda, P.,Dietz, C., Andreas, M., Hotovy, J., Lucan, R. K., Maltby, A., Meakin, K., Truscott, J. and Vallo, P. (2008) Bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Part 6. Bats of Sinai (Egypt) with some taxonomic, ecological and echolocation data on that fauna. Acta Societatis Zoologicae Bohemicae. 72: 1-103.
- Amr, Z.S., Baker, M.A.A. and Qumsiyeh, M.B. (2006) Bat diversity and conservation in Jordan. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 30: 235-244.
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.