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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Great Woolly Horseshoe Bat

Family : Rhinolophidae
Species : Rhinolophus luctus morio

Forearm Length : up to 6.9 cm
Weight : up to 39 grams

Rhinolophus luctus (Great Woolly Horseshoe Bat)  is the largest known species of horseshoe bat. It occurs in lowland primary forest and, under the right conditions, in disturbed secondary forest. It roosts alone or in pairs in tree hollows or rock shelters.

The subspecies Rhinolophus luctus morio occurs in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and northern Sumatra; some researchers consider R. l. morio (which was first described from Singapore in 1842) to be a species in its own right (Volleth et al, 2015).

In Singapore this bat was last documented in 2005 by Pottie et al; distinctive constant-frequency (CF) echolocation calls of ~42 kHz were detected at a number of locales.

This species is known to be a perch-hunter, sometimes lying in wait for flying insects, such as moths and beetles, to fly by whilst suspended from a twig or small branch. A similar hunting mode is also used by some of its closest relatives, for example the Trefoil Horseshoe Bat.

This bat can be identified in the field by its relatively large size in comparison to other horseshoe bats, and its long, grey-brown to dark grey, woolly fur (the tips of which are typically pale which gives a frosted effect). Closer inspection may reveal a complex noseleaf that is dark in colour, with 'lateral lappets' on each side of the sella (the structure in the middle of the noseleaf).

Fig 1 : Example perched near a lowland forest stream on the island of Tioman, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia; this bat was probably perch-hunting and waiting for flying insects to come within range. Photo thanks to Serin Subaraj.

Fig 2 : Close-up of the structures which comprise the noseleaf including, in the centre, the connecting process and sella, and at the bottom the distinctive, large horseshoe. Photo thanks to Serin Subaraj.

Fig 3 : Intact, lowland primary forest still exists on Tioman Island inland from a zone of disturbed, coastal forest; this habitat supports a great diversity of vertebrates, including around 20 species of bat (Lim et al, 1999).

References : M6, M12

Lim, B. L., Lim, K. K. P., & Yong, H. S. (1999). The terrestrial mammals of Pulau Tioman, Peninsular Malaysia, with a catalogue of specimens at the Raffles Museum, National University of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 6, 101-123.

Pottie, S. A., Lane, D. J. W., Kingston, T., & Lee, B. P. Y-H. (2005). The microchiropteran bat fauna of Singapore. Acta Chiropterologica, 7(2), 237-247.

Volleth, M., Loidl, J., Mayer, F., Yong, H. S., Mller, S., & Heller, K. G. (2015). Surprising genetic diversity in Rhinolophus luctus (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae) from Peninsular Malaysia: description of a new species based on genetic and morphological characters. Acta Chiropterologica, 17(1), 1-20.

Fig 1

ゥ  Serin Subaraj

Fig 2

ゥ  Serin Subaraj

Fig 2