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Trefoil Horseshoe Bat

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5


Family : Rhinolophidae
Species : Rhinolophus trifoliatus

Head-Body Length : up to 6.4 cm
Forearm Length : up to 5.7 cm
Weight : up to 20 grams

The Trefoil Horseshoe Bat inhabits a range of lowland forest types including primary, secondary and mangrove. It is not suited to heavily disturbed, open habitats such as plantations, agricultural areas or grassland.

It feeds on a variety of airborne, insect life which it detects by echolocation whilst hanging from its perch, before swooping down to capture. Its wings have a "low wing loading", which are characteristic of bats which utilise slow, but agile, flight amongst dense vegetation (Pottie et al, 2005).

Individuals of this species roost alone, typically suspended no more than 3 metres from the forest floor on small trees and vines, or beneath palms. A number of favoured roosts may be used within the home range of the individual (Kingston et al, 2006).

This is one of the most easily identifiable of small, insectivorous bats : its yellow noseleaf is not seen in other species in the region. Its ears are relatively large, and these may also be yellow. Its fur is grizzled greyish brown and its wings are reddish brown.

The Trefoil Horseshoe Bat occurs in parts of India, Burma, southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Riau Archipelago, Java and other, smaller islands of wetsern Indonesia.

Fig 1 : Typical perching posture, with wings folded across the belly and head arched forward. From this position it is easy for the bat to swoop onto passing insects.

Fig 2: Daytime roosting posture with head tucked beneath the wings.

Figs 3 and 4 : Close-ups of the complex noseleaf and ears. The eyes are tiny, and are not even visible in Fig 4.

(Figs 1 to 4 are of the same specimen from freshwater swamp forest habitat in Singapore).

Fig 5 : Another adult specimen, with large juvenile, photographed in Singapore's central forests. Photo thanks to Tony O'Dempsey

References : M6

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