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Fawn leaf-nosed bat

Common name: fawn leaf-nosed bat

Scientific name: Hipposideros cervinus

Family: Hipposideridae

Conservation status: This species is listed as Vulnerable in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992). It is ranked as a high priority under the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Back on Track species prioritisation framework.


The fawn leaf-nosed bat can be distinguished from other leaf-nosed and horseshoe bats by the shape of the nose-leaf. The nose-leaf has no central projection, and narrows at the front making the secondary leaflets more visible. The ears are broad and triangular. Males of this species have a small gland on the forehead, which produces an odourless fluid of unknown function (females only have a depression in this area). The fur can be grey, greyish-brown, or orange. The fawn leaf-nosed bat weighs between 5.6-9 g with a head to body length of 50-55 mm.

Habitat and distribution

The fawn leaf-nosed bat roosts in caves and abandoned mines, and occasionally in sheds and buildings. It hunts in a range of habitats including rainforest, gallery forest along watercourses, and open savannah woodland.

The fawn leaf-nosed bat occurs from the Coen region northwards to the tip of Cape York and is also found in South-east Asia and Melanesia. In Queensland it has been recorded in Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park, Mungkan Kandju National Park and Kulla (McIlwraith) National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land).

Life history and behaviour

Fawn leaf-nosed bats are active at night, and forage from one metre above the ground to canopy height, but not above the canopy. They fly close to the ground around bushes and banks, or over the surface of water. The perches used during foraging are usually situated near an open space, and are one to six metres above the ground.

These bats commute from roosting to foraging areas along established pathways, often along creeks or gullies. Individuals or groups split off from the main group and fly into the forest to commence hunting. The return to the roost is a reverse pattern of the exit.

The flight when commuting to and from the roost is fast and direct, with slight changes in direction to avoid vegetation. The foraging flight is slower and more fluttering, with continual flight, perch hunting, and hovering. The fawn leaf-nosed bat is a short range hunter often hunting in small groups.  The major components of its diet are medium-sized flying insects such as moths and beetles.

Colonies of fawn leaf-nosed bats can number up to 900 bats which hang separated from one another when roosting. They often share their roosts with other species of horseshoe bats.

Little is known about the reproduction of fawn leaf-nosed bats. Females give birth to a single young in November or December.

Threatening processes

Known threats of this species include:

  • The disturbance of cave roost sites by people.
  • Roost destruction by dereliction of mines, or from re-working old mines (e.g. when mining recommenced at the abandoned Stewart River Mine the roost of a colony of fawn leaf-nosed bats was destroyed).
  • Loss of feeding habitat by clearing, and land degradation from agriculture.
  • Predation by cats.

Recovery actions

  • Protect roosts from disturbance and destruction. Where possible manage disturbance by humans at known roost sites.
  • Maintain feeding habitat by protecting vegetation around roosting sites.
  • Look for further roost sites by surveying old mines within the species distribution.

Related information

Churchill, S 2009, Australian Bats (second edition), Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

Curtis, L, Dennis, A, McDonald, KR, Kyne, PM and Debus, SJS. 2012. Queensland’s Threatened Animals. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria

Duncan, A, Baker, GB and Montgomery, N (Eds.) 1999 The Action Plan for Australian Bats. Environment Australia, Canberra.

Menkhorst, P and Knight, F 2010, A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia (third edition), Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Van Dyck, S and Strahan, R (Eds.) 2008, The Mammals of Australia (third edition), New Holland Publishers, Sydney.

Last updated
12 July 2017