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Greater large-eared horseshoe bat

Photo: Bruce Thomson

Photo: Bruce Thomson

Common name: Greater large-eared horseshoe bat

Scientific name: Rhinolophus philippinensis (Rhino = snout, lophus = crest)

Family: Rhinolophidae

Conservation status: This species is listed as Endangered in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and Vulnerable nationally (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). It is ranked a high priority under the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Back on Track species prioritisation framework.


This horseshoe bat has very large ears and a yellow or grey noseleaf. Its large ear length distinguishes it from the eastern horseshoe-bat, Rhinolophus megaphyllus, which has smaller ears. Its fur is grey to brown on the back and slightly lighter on the belly. It can weigh between 8.3 – 16.2 g.

There is a smaller and a larger form within this species that differ in size, echolocation call, and noseleaf structure. Genetic analysis indicates these forms do not differ at the species level.

Habitat and distribution

The greater large-eared horseshoe bat can be found in North Queensland, from Townsville to Cape York. The smaller form (sometimes referred to as R. philippinensis achilles) is restricted to the more northerly parts of the species' distribution, on Iron Range and McIlwraith Range on Cape York.

This species occurs in rainforest, gallery forest, tropical eucalypt woodland, Melaleuca forest with rainforest understorey, and open woodland. They forage within vegetation, at the edge of vegetation, and in gaps, flying within 0.5 m of vegetation, but always below tree top height.

Life history and behaviour

Nocturnally active, the greater large-eared horseshoe bat captures insects (beetles and moths) from the air or surfaces during flight. Their flight is slow and fluttery. It lands to rest and to consume its prey.

During the day the bat roosts in caves and mines with high humidity. They often can be found roosting alongside eastern horseshoe-bats. A single young is born in November.

Threatening processes

Known threats to this bat are roost destruction and disturbance. Two mines used by the greater large-eared horseshoe bat as roosts have been disturbed or destroyed. It is also suspected that human roost disturbance of roosts and over-collection from well-known colony sites is affecting the species.

Recovery actions

Recovery plan for cave-dwelling bats, Rhinolophus philippinensis, Hipposideros semoni and Taphozous troughtoni 2001-2005 has been developed. The recovery plan outlines management actions for the conservation of the greater large-eared horseshoe bat.

  • Survey known roost sites and search for new sites within known geographic range.
  • Prevent the destruction and disturbance of roosts.
  • Determine habitat and roost requirements and reproductive biology.
  • Identify the dietary requirements and thermal characteristics of high priority roost and maternity sites, and foraging habitat of each species.
  • Install bat gates, fences or develop other appropriate protective systems to prevent human disturbance of roost and maternity sites.

Related information

Department of the Environment and Energy (DOEE) 2017. Rhinolophus philippinensis Greater large-eared horseshoe bat in Species Profile and Threats Database. DOEE, Canberra.

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

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

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

Last updated
12 July 2017