The lesser horseshoe bat is one of Ireland's smallest bats and easily recognised because of the horseshoe-shaped piece of cartilage surrounding its nostrils. It is also the only Irish bat that always hangs upside down with its wings folded around its body, like a cloak.

The lesser horseshoe bat probably flew to Ireland from Britain around 6,000 years ago and its Irish name is Crú-ialtóg beag. 

Irish history
The lesser horseshoe bat in Ireland is found only in six western counties, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Cork and Kerry. Most of these counties have caves or mines, which this bat uses in winter when it hibernates. One of the first times a lesser horseshoe bat was found in Ireland was in a cave in County Clare in March 1859. All Irish bats, including the horseshoe bat, are legally protected. 

Where does it live?
In summer female lesser horseshoe bats seek out attics in old, unoccupied buildings in the countryside where they give birth to their one baby, usually in June. A baby bat is called a 'pup’ and is suckled for about six weeks. Horseshoe bats are different to all other Irish bats because they cannot land and crawl into a building, but must fly directly through an opening, like swallows. 

Just hanging around! Thanks to Frank Greenaway for the pictures.

What does it eat?
Horseshoe bats hunt insects at night using ultrasonic sounds and are agile and manoeuvrable, so well-adapted to flying in woodland, their favourite habitat. They eat small flies and moths, either catching these when flying or by hanging from a branch and pouncing on an insect as it flies past. 

Thanks to our friends at Vincent Wildlife Trust who are doing amazing work to preserve and promote these little creatures.