Greater Horseshoe bat found on the Rock for the first time
Just a few weeks after hitting the headlines when Gorham’s Cave became a Unesco World Heritage Site, Gibraltar is in the news again because a species of bat which is new to the Rock has been discovered in a cave for the first time.
The Greater Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) was spotted by Dr. Geraldine Finlayson of the Gibraltar Museum as she was working deep inside a cave last Friday, and after taking photos and reporting her find to specialists at the museum’s Natural History department, a team from the Gib-Bats project was dispatched to the site.
This is a large species of bat, with a wingspan up to 40 cms. Its distinctive nose leaf, which has a horseshoe-shaped lower part, helps it to focus the ultrasound it uses to ‘see’ at night. These bats normally feed on large moths and also large beetles.
The team at Gibraltar Museum understands from old records that Lesser Horseshoe Bats (Rhinolophus hipposideros) were once found on the Rock, but they have become locally extinct over the past decade. This latest discovery is therefore extremely important.
This particular individual was a juvenile female, born this year and was probably dispersing from its birth site in search of new feeding grounds. It is possible thatsince the Catalan Bay Sand Dune on the Rock’s eastern side was cleared of the water catchments and vegetation now grows on the sand, this has allowed more insects to colonize the area. This may have produced new food sources for bats and that may be tempting new species to come in.
The Gibraltar authorities say that if a member of the public finds a bat, the animal should not be touched and Gib-Bats should be contacted by phoning 58007963.source surinenglish