Rhinolophidae is a family of bats commonly known as horseshoe bats. There is also an extinct genus of bats, Palaeonycteris. Horseshoe bats are closely related to the Hipposideridae. Horseshoe bats are divided into six subgenera and many species groups. The common ancestor of all horseshoe bats lived 34–40 million years ago. Horseshoe bats are found mostly in tropical or subtropical areas, including Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.
|Lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) with blue metallic identification band on left wing|
Horseshoe bats are a source of disease. Several species are the source of SARS coronavirus. Some evidence suggests that some species could be the source of SARS-CoV-2, which causes coronavirus disease 2019. The bats are hunted for food in several regions, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa, but also Southeast Asia. Some species or their guano are used in traditional medicine in Nepal, India, Vietnam, and Senegal.
Horseshoe bats are a small to medium-sized microbat. They weigh 4–28 g (0.14–0.99 oz), with their forearms being 30–75 mm (1.2–3.0 in) in length. Their combined head and body lengths is 35–110 mm (1.4–4.3 in). Their fur can be reddish-brown, blackish, or bright orange-red, with a majority of species having long, smooth fur.
They have large wings compared to their size, and the shape of the wings means they are able to make quick, tight turns at slow speeds.(p361)
They get their common name from their large noses (nose-leafs), which are shaped like horseshoes. The nose-leafs help with echolocation; the bats use their nose to make a constant frequency, high-duty call to find their prey. They hunt insects and spiders. Little is known about their mating systems, but at least one species is monogamous, while another is polygynous. Gestation is about seven weeks and one baby is produced at a time. Bats live for six or seven years, but one greater horseshoe bat lived more than 30 years.
Some species of bats are solitary, and roost alone, while others live in groups of several thousand.(p xi)
- Norberg, U. M.; Rayner, J. M. V. (1987). "Ecological morphology and flight in bats (Mammalia; Chiroptera): Wing adaptations, flight performance, foraging strategy and echolocation". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, Biological Sciences. 316 (1179): 335–427. Bibcode:1987RSPTB.316..335N. doi:10.1098/rstb.1987.0030.
- Csorba, G.; Ujhelyi, P.; Thomas, P. (2003). Horseshoe Bats of the World: (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae). Alana Books. ISBN 9780953604913.