Cornish Biodiversity Network  -  Supporting Wildlife Recording

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Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Rhinolophus hipposideros - Lesser Horseshoe Bat

Range & Status

This is the most northerly species of horseshoe bat and is found in the Benelux countries, France and central Europe to Russia. The species is threatened with extinction in Germany, has gone from northern central Europe and is in decline elsewhere (Schober & Grimmberger, 1987). It is scattered throughout Wales, west and south-west Britain. The estimate of the total population in Britain is 17,000 (Harris et al ., 1995). The National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) has recorded that the population is showing an increase over the last 10 years (NBMP, 2008).

Regional Distribution

Colonies are scattered throughout Cornwall except in the extreme west, often in less exposed areas. The number of 1km squares in which recorded has increased from 58 to 169. Even with the limitations mentioned in the Introduction and the variables between the recording periods, it is likely that this increase reflects the NBMP national findings. One SSSI includes a Lesser Horseshoe Bat nursery roost as a feature of interest.

Habitat & Ecology

Hunts in woodland, scrubland and grassland often near water. Hibernates in mines, caves or cellars. Nursery roosts are located in the warmer parts of large buildings with free flight access. Feeds frequently in winter during mild weather when dung fauna is an important food source.


See Introduction. Conspicuous and easily disturbed as it hangs from roof of summer or winter roost. Remedial timber treatment, loss of insect prey are general threats; insensitive barn or large house conversion and the closure of shafts/adits pose particular threats in Cornwall.


Extensive legal protection detailed in Introduction. Both summer and winter roosts need special protection. Reduce pesticides and encourage mixed farming. Target for Higher Level Scheme (HLS) agri-environment schemes to manage land with the range of the roost in a sympathetic manner. UK BAP Priority Species + local BAP.


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.