Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on ten species of Bats (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001a) [Listing Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Recovery plan for cave-dwelling bats, Rhinolophus philippinensis, Hipposideros semoni and Taphozous troughtoni 2001-2005 (Thomson, B., C. Pavey, and T. Reardon, 2001) [Recovery Plan].
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Bats. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.1 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010m) [Admin Guideline].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (29/03/2001) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2001h) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
QLD:Greater large-eared horseshoe-bat (Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (Qld DEHP), 2013i) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Endangered* (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Scientific name Rhinolophus philippinensis (large form) [66890]
Family Rhinolophidae:Chiroptera:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Queensland: At the species level, Rhinolophus philippinensis is listed as Endangered under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Scientific name: Rhinolophus philippinensis

Common name: Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat

In Australia, this species-level common name also includes the Lesser Large-eared Horseshoe Bat (Armstrong & Reardon 2006), which is designated as the 'small form' (Armstrong & Reardon 2006; Pavey & Kutt 2008), and is also known as 'the intermediate' because of its intermediate size and mean call frequency between the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat, Rhinolophus philippinensis, and the Eastern Horseshoe Bat, Rhinolophus megaphyllus, (Cooper et al. 1998; Guillén-Servent et al. 2003).

The large form of the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat was previously called the Large-eared Horseshoe Bat, Rhinolophus philippinensis maros, Tate and Archbold (1939) by Churchill (1998), but this was in error (the names, distribution and call frequency were mixed up between the two forms, as noted also by AMBS 2004a; Kutt 2004).

Pavey (2002), Csorba and colleagues (2003) and Simmons (2005) recognise a valid subspecific name for one of the Australian forms, Rhinolophus philippinensis robertsi Tate, 1952. However, there is disagreement about these subspecific classifications, and to which form the names belong (see also review in Cooper et al. 1998). Currently two different 'forms' are recognised, pending more rigorous taxonomic assessment (Armstrong & Reardon 2006; Duncan et al. 1999; Simmons 2005):

  • Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus philippinensis Waterhouse, 1843 (large form);
  • Lesser Large-eared Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus philippinensis Waterhouse, 1843 (small form).

The taxonomy of the Large-eared Horseshoe Bat requires clarification at both specific and subspecific levels.

Rhinolophus philippinensis was first recorded in Australia by Tate (1952), who named it R. maros robertsi. Rhinolophus maros was later recognised as a junior synonym of R. philippinensis (Laurie & Hill 1954); the latter specific name has been in stable use in Australia since that time.

Based on DNA research, Cooper and colleagues (1998) suggested it was likely that populations from Sabah, New Guinea and Australia (samples were not available for the Philippines) would each qualify for separate species status under the phylogenetic species concept (Cracraft 1983), but emphasised that a more formal and comprehensive review was required. Genetic research has also shown that both R. philippinensis and the Australian 'intermediate' were paraphyletic (a group that includes some, but not all, of the descendants of a single common ancestor (Guillén-Servent et al. 2003), based on designation of some groups as full species (R. montanus, R. hirsutus and R. megaphyllus). If these relationships are resolved, as Cooper and colleagues (1998) suggest, then the two Australian Large-eared Horseshoe Bats might be re-named.

At the level of subspecies, there have been several opinions, with the most recent ones based on brief unpublished examinations of morphology (Flannery 1995), and more comprehensive application of genetic markers (Cooper et al. 1998).

Simmons (2005) followed Koopman (1994) and Csorba and colleagues (2003) by recognising the two Australian forms as distinct subspecies pending a more thorough revision of the complex. Consequently, the two 'forms' are recognised as such, pending further work, and are best referred to by their standardised common name or their form designation (Armstrong & Reardon 2006; Duncan et al. 1999).

The Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat has enormous ears and nose-leaf. The fur is long, fine, grey-brown and peppered with white hairs. The fur on the belly is paler in colour. In some individuals, the skin of the nose-leaf, anus and penis or pubic false teats is bright yellow, but the most common colour is greyish. Sexes are similar in appearance and measurements. The fur colour of this species is also very similar to the Lesser Large-eared Horseshoe Bat and some individuals of this latter form may also have yellow skin (Churchill 1998, 2009).

The forearm length of the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat ranges from 51.6 mm to 59.0 mm, ear length 29.0 mm to 33.3 mm and weight 10.0 g to 16.2 g. However, there is a cline in size, with the smallest individuals occurring in the southern part of their range. Where it overlaps in range with the Lesser Large-eared Horseshoe Bat in the northern areas of Cape York, the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is significantly larger and heavier, with the forearm 56.0 mm to 59.0 mm, ear length 32.1 mm to 33.3 mm and weight 11.5 g to 16.2 g. In contrast, in this area of sympatry (overlapping distribution), the Lesser Large-eared Horseshoe Bat has a forearm of 50.0 mm to 53.5 mm, ear length 25.2 mm to 27.3 mm and weight 8.3 g to 9.9 g (Churchill 2009; Pavey & Kutt 2008). The Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat can also be distinguished from the Eastern Horseshoe Bat, Rhinolophus megaphyllus, by its much longer forearm length and larger ears (Churchill 1998, 2009).

The echolocation calls of the Greater Large-Eared Horseshoe Bat are the lowest of any rhinolophid bat, ranging between 28 kHz and 34 kHz (Coles 1993; Fenton 1982; note that call frequency was mixed up between large and small forms in Churchill 1998 and Pavey 2002; but is corrected and updated in Churchill 2009 and Pavey & Kutt 2008). In contrast, the Lesser Large-eared Horseshoe Bat emits calls around 40 kHz and the calls of the Eastern Horseshoe Bat range between 66 kHz to 72 kHz (Coles 1993; Pennay et al. 2004; Reinhold et al. 2001).

The Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat occurs only in northern Queensland, from the Iron Range southwards to Townsville and west to the karst regions of Chillagoe and Mitchell-Palmer. The southern limit of its range has not been clarified, and it might be present south of Townsville at Mt Elliott and Cape Cleveland (Pavey & Kutt 2008).

The current known extent of occurrence for the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is estimated at 124 250 km² and the area of further potential distribution is an additional 79 100 km². Areas were calculated after redrawing in a GIS the estimated distribution of the species as illustrated in Churchill (1998) and AMBS (2003; based on C. Clague pers. comm.).

The most southern record of the species occurred at the Paluma mine (c. 80 km north of Townsville) until it was closed in 1994 as part of a program to 'Clean up the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area' (Duncan et al. 1999). In addition, Hall (1989) mentioned that records south of Cooktown have become rare, though there are occasional captures, such as the two records within 50 km of Townsville (Kutt 2004).

The distribution of the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat on both a broad and fine scale is not well known, and therefore area of occupancy cannot be calculated accurately. However, a rough estimate is available from information in Duncan and colleagues (1999) and Thomson and colleagues (2001). Based on the area of national parks where the species has been recorded, the minimum area of occupancy (i.e. without estimates from most public and other lands; compiled from DEW 2004) is 8159 km².

No specific data on future changes in area of occupancy are available. However, vegetation clearing or modification, including loss of understorey from grazing might reduce the habitat available at the edges of their distribution (B. Thomson 2007a, pers. comm.).

No specific data on past changes in area of occupancy are available. Destruction of most mines on the Cape York Peninsula (B. Thomson 2007a, pers. comm.) may have limited roosting opportunity to a small degree. However, this species is not an obligate cave-dweller, and is thought to make use of the basal hollows in large trees and dense vegetation (S.K. Churchill pers. comm. in Thomson et al. 2001).

The Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is known from a relatively small number of locations, as detected at roosts or in flight. These locations include several national parks, some of which are in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA) (Duncan et al. 1999; Thomson et al. 2001):

  • Black Mountain National Park, (WTWHA) (9.03 km²)
  • Cape Melville National Park (1370 km²)
  • Cape Tribulation National Park, (now the "Cape Tribulation section" of the Daintree National Park; WTWHA)
  • Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park (35.8 km²)
  • Crystal Creek - Mt Spec National Park (WTWHA) (no area available)
  • Daintree National Park (768 km²)
  • Iron Range National Park (471 km²)
  • Mitchell Palmer Goldfields Reserve (16.2 km²)
  • Mungan Kadju National Park (4560 km²)
  • Paluma Range National Park (108 km²)
  • Starke National Park (79.6 km²)
  • Undara Volcanic National Park (658 km²).

Presence on other public land includes (Duncan et al. 1999; Kutt 2004):

  • Curtain Fig State Forest (1.95 km²)
  • Danbulla State Forest (81.5 km²)
  • Goldsborough State Forest
  • McIlwraith Range Proposed National Park (now Kulla (McIlwraith Range) National Park)
  • Mt Baldy State Forest
  • Pine Creek State Forest
  • Clement State Forest
  • Townsville Field Training Area (Commonwealth Land).

Presence on other land (Duncan et al. 1999) includes:

  • Belle Vue Station in caves of the Mitchell / Palmer Karst area
  • Freehold, leasehold, Aboriginal lands on east coast between Cairns and Iron Range in caves and mines
  • Mt Molloy, on mining leases
  • Palmer River Station in caves of the Mitchell / Palmer Karst area
  • Silver Plains Station, though roosts have not yet been located.

Specimens in the Queensland Museum were collected at:

  • Peach Creek upper crossing JM2512, JM2513
  • Peach Creek headwaters JM2514, JM3499, JM3500
  • Mt Molloy copper mine JM3267 - JM3272
  • Mt. Croll weather station, Leo Creek Road JM3497, JM3498
  • Annan Falls, south of Cooktown JM6979
  • Mount Amos, south-west of Cooktown JM10803 - JM10805
  • Shipton's Flat JM5293
  • Iron Range JM6470, JM6471
  • Phonecian mine, JM6472
  • Old Collingwood mine JM14714.

There are no captive, propagated or artificially translocated colonies or populations of the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat.

Like many species of bat, this species has taken some advantage of disused underground mines, though they are not obligate cave- or mine-dwelling. Thomson and colleagues (2001) report this species' use of caves and mines but also note their use of trees and vegetation as roosts. In the Herbeton/Irvinebank/Petford area, there has been a connection between populations in the Mitchell–Palmer and Chillagoe limestone areas with the populations in the wet tropics via abandoned tin mines on the southern and western Atherton Tablelands (Hall et al. 1997).

The distribution of the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is considered to be continuous on a broad scale. However, within this, connectedness among population groups might be low because of land clearing, since the species prefers to forage within relatively dense stands of vegetation (Pavey 2002). The species does forage within woodland and one radio-tagged individual at Iron Range was observed to fly regularly into the open to feed on insects attracted to a light source (Pavey 2002; Pavey & Kutt 2008). Thus, some propensity for movement among suitable rainforest habitat patches might be possible but would need to be quantified by a population genetic study.

There are several subspecies of Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat recognised throughout Sundaland, Wallacea and the island of New Guinea, though there are relatively few records of occurrence (review in Csorba et al. 2003). In Papua New Guinea, it has been found in two locations: Mt Karimui, Noru, Chimbu Province, and Waro, Southern Highland Province (Bonaccorso 1998; Cooper et al. 1998; Flannery 1995).

In Indonesia, it has been collected from Geelvinck Bay, West Papua (Bonaccorso 1998), the Kai Islands, and on Talassa Island, Buton Island and Kabaena Island in Sulawesi (review in Csorba et al. 2003; Kingston & Rossiter 2004).

In Malaysian Borneo, it is known from Sabah and several locations in Sarawak (review in Csorba et al. 2003). It is also found throughout the Philippines - Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros and Siguijor (review in Csorba et al. 2003).

Previously, it was recognised from Timor-Leste (East Timor) (Goodwin 1979), but the taxon there was recently elevated to full species status by Csorba (2002) and Csorba and colleagues (2003) (Rhinolophus montanus Goodwin, 1979). However, the taxonomy of Rhinolophus philippinensis is not fully resolved, and further revision involving R. montanus might occur.

Throughout its global distribution, there are between one and three size morphs or phonic types (size morphs calling at different mean echolocation frequencies) known, for example in Sulawesi (three types; Kingston & Rossiter 2004), and Timor-Leste (two types for Rhinolophus montanus; Armstrong et al. 2007).

The global population size of the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is largely unknown. It is apparently uncommon in the Philippines (Heaney et al. 1998). Given that it has only been captured in primary and secondary forest (between altitudes of 200 m and 500 m (Heaney et al. 1998)), threats to the species include deforestation.

Owing to a lack of information concerning the global population size for the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat, it is not currently possible to accurately determine the percentage of global population occurring in Australia.

Whether the Australian population of this species is geographically distinct from the remainder of its range is dependent on the future resolution of taxonomy, since the two Australian forms (Greater (large) and Lesser (small)) might represent different species. There is an opinion that the New Guinea island group is the same subspecies as those in Australia (Rhinolophus philippinensis robertsi Tate, 1952; see Bonaccorso 1998). However, Cooper and colleagues (1998) suggested that genetic groups of both R. philippinensis and R. megaphyllus from Sabah, New Guinea and Australia should be designated as separate species. Regardless of the taxonomic confusion, it can be said that it is very unlikely for contemporary ocean crossing movement of bats between Australia and Papua New Guinea across the Torres Strait, with the last contact likely to have occurred in the mid-late Pleistocene, when the two land masses were in contact.

No global threats have been identified for the Australian population.

The Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat has not been surveyed adequately. Relatively few roost sites or details on population size are known and further surveys are required.

Surveys have been conducted mostly on a local scale through programmes such as Project Gondwana in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (Duncan et al. 1999). Other surveys have been conducted by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Queensland Speleological Society in the Mitchell Palmer Karst area (Duncan et al. 1999; Pavey 1995); by environmental consultants; and by other individual researchers (for example, Clague et al. 1995). Details of most private surveys by consultants and researchers are currently unpublished and unavailable.

A survey ( B. Thomson, unpublished data) checked all old mine sites listed for Cape York in the Queensland Department of Mines and Energy (DME) historic mines database. It was observed that all of these sites had been destroyed. Another mine near Coen had also been destroyed. There are no longer any old mines on the Cape York Peninsula that have any value for bats, other than the 'Old Collingwood' and sites at Iron Range.

NRA Environmental Consultants (2010) located the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat at a proposed quarry site near Townsville, Queensland.

There is no information available on population size for the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat, although the species is regarded as scarce. The largest colonies have been observed on a single occasions each in just a few old mines (Mt Molloy - 7-8; Phonecian mine at Mt Amos - 18) (Churchill 2009; B. Thomson 2007a, pers. comm.). The species is thought to roost mainly in tree hollows and vegetation or open habitats such as under creek banks and road culverts, in rockpiles, and relatively shallow caves in drier times (B. Thomson 2007a, pers. comm.).

The distribution of the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is considered to be continuous on a broad scale. On a finer scale, there has been no study to determine possible barriers to movement and gene flow, and the connectedness of remnant vegetation used by the species.

No extinctions have been reported.

The population trend for the Greater Large-eard Horseshoe Bat is regarded as in decline. Two main causes of decline have been identified:

  • human disturbance of roost sites
  • the collapse and intentional closure of old mines.

Duncan and colleagues (1999) mention that over-collection for museums from well-known colony sites (such as Mt Molloy; B. Thomson pers. comm. 2007a) has been a contributing factor to the decline.

There is no specific data available to indicate the future population trend.

No extreme natural fluctuations in population numbers for the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat have been noted.

The generation length of the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is unknown, but is likely to be around five years. Longevity of this species is unknown, but is presumably similar to other bats of equivalent size in the families Hipposideridae and Rhinolophidae. While a very small proportion of bats in these families may live up to 30 years (Caubere et al. 1984; Wilkinson & South 2002), most will live around 10 years, especially if they are obligate cave roosters and do not hibernate (Tuttle & Stevenson 1982; Wilkinson & South 2002).

The Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat does not commonly form large aggregations in mines or caves (B. Thomson 2007a. pers. comm.), so success from efforts to preserve roosting concentrations will be limited. Some mines important as region dispersal centres for part of the species population include the Jack Gordon mine in the Iron Range (Hall et al. 1997).

The species is best conserved by preserving natural remnant vegetation with good understorey where it has been identified unambiguously, or is thought to occur.

Genetic studies by Cooper and colleagues (1998) were unable to resolve the relationship of the two forms of philippinensis in Australia. The authors offered several hypotheses for the observed paraphyletic relationship (a group that includes some, but not all, of the descendants of a single common ancestor) of Rhinolophus megaphyllus and R. philippinensis, including one that postulated that the 'intermediate' (small form, Lesser Large-eared Horseshoe Bat) was the result of one-way hybridisation between a male R. megaphyllus and a female R. philippinensis (which have given the 'intermediate' form the observed philippinensis-like haplotype).

Support for the hypothesis comes from morphological features of intermediate size and shape between the two named taxa, but with nose-leaf characters being closer to philippinensis. The mean call frequency is between the two named taxa (c. 40 kHz, compared with 28–34 kHz in the large form R. philippinensis, and 66–72 kHz in R. megaphyllus).

Apart from the validity of alternative hypotheses, there is also evidence against the hybrid hypothesis. Cross-breeding between the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat and other species of Horseshoe Bat are yet to be proven.

There are populations of Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat in several national parks and three of these parks are in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA) (Duncan et al. 1999; Thomson et al. 2001):

  • Black Mountain National Park (WTWHA)
  • Cape Melville National Park
  • Cape Tribulation National Park (now the "Cape Tribulation section" of the Daintree National Park, WTWHA)
  • Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park
  • Crystal Creek-Mt Spec National Park (WTWHA)
  • Daintree National Park
  • Iron Range National Park
  • Mitchell Palmer Goldfields Reserve
  • Mungan Kadju National Park
  • Paluma Range National Park
  • Starke National Park
  • Undara Volcanic National Park.

No examples of active management in national park management plans for this species by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service are available.

The Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is found in lowland rainforest, along gallery forest-lined creeks within open eucalypt forest, Melaleuca forest with rainforest understorey, open savannah woodland and tall riparian woodland of Melaleuca, Forest Red Gum (E. tereticornis) and Moreton Bay Ash (E. tesselaris) (Churchill 2009; Pavey & Kutt 2008).

Daytime roosting habitat for the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat includes caves and underground mines located in rainforest, and open eucalypt forest and woodland (Pavey 2002). Roosts have also been observed in road culverts, and it is suspected that the species uses basal hollows of large trees, dense vegetation, rockpiles and areas beneath creekbanks (AMBS 2004a; B. Thomson 2007a, pers. comm.; Thomson et al. 2001). Some mines and caves have resident colonies, however most appear to be used irregularly (AMBS 2004a). Non-cave/mine roost habitats might be used more regularly, as individuals captured in flight do not typically display fur bleaching as is characteristic of other species such as Rhinolophus megaphyllus that roost deep in mines (B. Thomson 2007a, pers. comm.).

At night, they forage mainly in open forest and wattle-dominated ridges in rainforest (Duncan et al. 1999). In open forest and woodland, they prefer to forage amongst the thicker vegetation in gullies and along creeks, though they have been observed at the edge of grassy clearings in rainforest and road edges (Churchill 2009; Pavey 1999, 2002; Pavey & Kutt 2008). They usually fly within the lower half of the canopy between one and eight metres, using gaps such as tracks within rainforest (Churchill 2009; Pavey 2002). The species has also been observed regularly at canopy height (around 25 m; Whybird 1996; O. Whybird pers. comm. in AMBS 2004a).

Daytime refuge habitats for the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat are caves and mines; however, movement between roosts according to seasonal or stochastic factors has not been studied.

The species is not associated with a listed threatened ecological community. It may share roosts on occasions with Semon's Leaf-nosed Bat (Hipposideros semoni), listed as endangered under the EPBC Act, possibly in the Iron and McIlwraith Ranges (B. Thomson 2007a, pers. comm.).

Age at sexual maturity for the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is unknown, but is likely to be similar to other medium-sized Rhinolophus, which is in their first or second year.

Life expectancy is unknown, but is likely to be around 10 years, similar to other medium-sized bats that do not hibernate in the Hipposideridae (Wilkinson & South 2002).

Natural predators include snakes, varanid lizards and owls that either capture bats at their tree or cave roosts, or on the wing.

The seasonal timing of breeding of the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is apparently similar to the Eastern Horseshoe Bat, Rhinolophus megaphyllus, with heavily pregnant females noted in October (Mt Molloy, west of Cairns; McIlwraith Range; and Coen on Cape York Peninsula) and late November (Iron Range). Birth of a single young occurs in late October or November (Churchill 2009; Pavey 2002). Maternity sites are apparently unknown (Pavey 2002), though the Mt Molloy record was of six pregnant females, and the roost microclimate was relatively warm and humid (25° C and 96% relative humidity) when ambient conditions were hot and dry (Churchill 2009).

Insect prey items for the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat include mainly moths, with a small proportion of beetles, grasshoppers or crickets (Churchill 2009; Pavey 1999, 2002). It is likely that most moths would be of non-eared families such as the Anthelidae, Lasiocampidae and Cossidae, because the call frequency is within the range of hearing of eared moths (Pavey 1999).

Insect prey is taken by aerial hawking and to a lesser extent gleaning (picking prey from surfaces), often very close to the ground, or from the ground. Flight is slow and fluttery, with sudden changes of direction and height to capture prey. Bats roost on tree branches for short periods to consume larger prey items or rest, but perch hunting has not been observed. Flights across open spaces are fast and direct, and without foraging (Pavey 1999, 2002; Pavey & Kutt 2008; Whybird 1996).

While they have been observed on occasions foraging in rainforest clearings and around a light near a patch of rainforest, they are thought to prefer to remain within canopy (Pavey 1999). Therefore, the loss of native vegetation remnants and understorey would limit their local distribution.

The Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is not known to be migratory. Seasonal patterns and the degree of movement among roosts have not been studied. Bats exit the daytime roost at dusk and return in the early morning. It is not known if they use night roosts.

The Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat can be observed singly or in small groups, though they roost alone, scattered throughout a cave or mine, and never occur in clumps. The largest colony observed numbered 18 individuals, though groups of less than ten may be more typical. They have been observed amongst a large colony of Eastern Horseshoe Bats (Rhinolophus megaphyllus), where they were distinguished easily without capture by their large ears and greater size (Churchill 1998, 2009; Pavey 2002).

Nightly foraging range and feeding site size has not been studied in this species. Pavey (2002) commented that feeding sites might be a considerable distance from daytime roost sites if there are few roost sites available in an area.

The Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is distinguished easily from most species of bat by its uniquely-shaped nose-leaf, and from the Eastern Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus megaphyllus by its relatively large forearm and ear lengths (above 50 mm and 20 mm, respectively), and lower echolocation call frequency (between 28-40 kHz; cf. 66-72 kHz). The two forms (larger and smaller) of R. philippinensis are distinguishable from each other by forearm length (above 54 mm in the large form), and echolocation call frequency (28-34 kHz in the large form; c. 40 kHz in the small form) (Churchill 2009; Pavey 2002; Pavey & Kutt 2008).

The species has been observed without capture amongst a large group of roosting R. megaphyllus, distinguished by its larger size and enormous ears (Churchill 2009; Pavey 2002). Recording of echolocation and examination of call frequency allows unambiguous identification of both forms, as well as from R. megaphyllus.

Documented examples of past habitat loss or disturbance for the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat include:

  • Destruction of five caves used by Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bats and Ghost Bats (Macroderma gigas) at the Mt Consider limestone outcrop, north of Mareeba. The entire outcrop was completely removed and crushed for fertilizer for cane fields.
  • The Paluma mine was closed in 1994 as part of a programme to "Clean up the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area" (Duncan et al. 1999). This effectively reduced the extent of occurrence of the species, since this was the most southerly record.
  • The entrance to the Old Collingwood mine at Shipton's Flat (near Cooktown) was bulldozed for public safety. A small entrance was reopened illegally to allow bats to enter, and the mine has since been successfully recolonised (Duncan et al. 1999).
  • The potential for increased predation was thought likely after gating of the Phonecian mine at Mt Amos caused the species to use a ventilation shaft (Duncan et al. 1999). This site contains the record of the largest known colony, approximately 18 individuals observed in 1950 (Churchill 2009).

Other possible threats (Thomson et al. 2001) that could result in further declines in both the number of roosts, area of occupancy and number of individuals include:

  • re-opening of old mine sites for further ore extraction
  • the destruction of old hardrock mines for the purpose of public safety
  • limestone quarrying
  • exotic pests, including cane toads (remains of other bat species have been found in their stomach contents), and pigs (on Cape York they create wallows in caves and mines, which destroys the cave environment)
  • increasing ecotourism visits to caves
  • unmanaged scientific collecting
  • foraging habitat loss due to landclearing and uncontrolled wildfires.

Catastrophic threats include the destruction of mines or caves with significantly-sized colonies of this species, though few such colonies are known (Duncan et al. 1999). Further compilation of known roost sites would assist in determining the likelihood of a catastrophic occurrence and the proportion of the known population that might be affected.

The Recovery Plan for cave-dwelling bats, Rhinolophus philippinensis, Hipposideros semoni and Taphozous troughtoni 2001-2005 (Thomson et al. 2001), includes a comprehensive set of recovery objectives and criteria:

Overall objectives

  • To clarify the taxonomic status of the subject species.
  • To ensure that priority roost and maternity sites throughout the species' distributions are protected from identified threats.
  • To document aspects of species ecology necessary for effective species management and conservation.

Specific objectives during the life of the current recovery plan

  • To establish the status of poorly known species and to identify appropriate species management units within two years of implementation of the plan.
  • To gather the necessary biological data from current records and through new targeted field work for the effective conservation management of the species.
  • To implement conservation strategies or on-ground conservation works in priority sites where the species' occur. These initiatives will be designed to mitigate identified threatening processes.
  • To identify trends in the species' abundance at priority sites across their distributional ranges after the instigation of conservation strategies or on-ground conservation works.
  • To encourage community participation in and understanding of the recovery process and the conservation issues related specifically to cave-dwelling bats.

Recovery criteria

  • All species are taxonomically delineated.
  • Species' distribution ranges are identified.
  • Roost and maternity sites for species are identified and prioritised.
  • Species' roost site characteristics, diet and habitat use are identified.
  • On-ground works are completed, or agreed conservation management practices implemented at priority roost and maternity sites.
  • At sites where on-ground management practices or works have been implemented, follow-up surveys indicate that population size is stable or increasing.
  • Information is disseminated to the public through appropriate media.
  • Community Groups are involved in the recovery planning process.

Actions needed

  • Undertake taxonomic studies using allozyme and mitochondrial DNA sequencing, and identify standard morphological characters for use in the field identification of species.
  • Review all information sources and undertake field surveys to identify fully the distribution ranges of the species.
  • Identify natural cave systems within the species' projected distributions with the aid of local knowledge, topographic maps and published accounts.
  • Identify the location of early mining operations (now abandoned and in non-mining company tenure) within the species' distributions with the aid of local knowledge, topographic maps and published accounts, and locate potential mine sites which may be roost and/or maternity sites.
  • Identify other structures which may form important roost or maternity sites within the distribution ranges of the species.
  • Undertake field survey work to confirm the species' presence in roost sites and where the species are found to occur, undertake assessment to determine the nature and immediacy of any threats.
  • Identify the dietary requirements and thermal characteristics of roost sites and the foraging habitat of each species.
  • Analyse survey data and information gathered on dietary requirements, thermal characteristics of roosts and foraging habitat in order to establish priorities for on-ground protection measures of roost and maternity sites.
  • Install bat gates or fences, or develop other protective systems to prevent human disturbance of roost or maternity sites. In some instances the stabilisation of the site may be required to ensure a degree of site longevity and to address human safety concerns. Such work will be done with the collaboration of landholders and/or the appropriate government agency and aboriginal group.
  • Undertake follow-up monitoring at sites where management strategies have been instigated to assess the effectiveness of the above conservation measures. Such monitoring will take into account known or suspected seasonal variation in population size and breeding patterns. Two surveys per year for priority sites is considered a minimum requirement.
  • Provide information releases through local radio and newspaper media to notify the community of project progress and to increase awareness of cave-dwelling bat conservation issues.
  • Hold recovery team meetings every two years and encourage and assist other community groups to join the recovery team (Thomson et al. 2001).

The Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat is listed in The Action Plan for Australian Bats (Duncan et al. 1999), which includes several completed or ongoing management actions:

  • Bat surveys within Wet Tropics World Heritage Area as part of Project Gondwana, funded by Wet Tropics Management Agency.
  • Current Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service action for the protection and gating of known mine roosts and caves (where necessary).
  • Molecular taxonomy ongoing at the South Australian Museum.
  • Survey of the bats of the Mitchell/Palmer Karst area.

Recovery objectives:

  • Clarify the current distribution and abundance of the species.
  • Protect all known roosts.
  • Increase understanding of the basic ecology of the species for management purposes.
  • Resolve taxonomy (Duncan et al. 1999).

Management and research actions:

  • Undertake targeted surveys for the species to clarify distribution and abundance.
  • Carry out ecological research to meet recovery objectives, for example, to determine:
    • habitat requirements
    • roost and maternity site selection
    • foraging strategy
    • population dynamics
    • threatening processes (Duncan et al. 1999).

Cooper and colleagues (1998) attempted to resolve the status of Australian Rhinolophus using allozymes and D-loop mitochondrial DNA markers. The study showed that Australian forms were distinct from other taxa in the region, but a paraphyletic (containing some, but not all, descendants from a common ancestor) grouping comprising R. megaphyllus and the two R. philippinensis forms (large and small) prevented them from resolving the taxonomy of Australian R. philippinensis.

Echolocation call frequency was studied by Coles (1993) but full details were not published.

Most information has come from opportunistic captures and observations (see compilations in Churchill 1998; Hall 1983, 1989; Hall et al. 1997; Hall & Richards 1979; Pavey 1999, 2002; Pavey & Kutt 2008), surveys conducted as part of environmental assessments (unpublished and currently unavailable), or long-term research interests that have yet to be published.

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

Thomson B, Pavey C & Reardon T (2001). National Recovery Plan for cave-dwelling bats, Rhinolophus philippinensis, Hipposideros semoni and Taphozous troughtoni 2001-2005.

The Australian handbook for the conservation of bats in mines and artificial cave-bat habitats (Thomson 2002) provides management guidelines for cave-dwelling species that may inhabit disused mine sites.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Listing Advice on ten species of Bats (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001a) [Listing Advice].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities Recovery plan for cave-dwelling bats, Rhinolophus philippinensis, Hipposideros semoni and Taphozous troughtoni 2001-2005 (Thomson, B., C. Pavey, and T. Reardon, 2001) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Mechanical disturbance during construction, maintanance or recreational activities Recovery plan for cave-dwelling bats, Rhinolophus philippinensis, Hipposideros semoni and Taphozous troughtoni 2001-2005 (Thomson, B., C. Pavey, and T. Reardon, 2001) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Environemental pressures due to ecotourism Recovery plan for cave-dwelling bats, Rhinolophus philippinensis, Hipposideros semoni and Taphozous troughtoni 2001-2005 (Thomson, B., C. Pavey, and T. Reardon, 2001) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) Recovery plan for cave-dwelling bats, Rhinolophus philippinensis, Hipposideros semoni and Taphozous troughtoni 2001-2005 (Thomson, B., C. Pavey, and T. Reardon, 2001) [Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Commonwealth Listing Advice on ten species of Bats (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001a) [Listing Advice].

Armstrong, K. & T. Reardon (2006). Standardising common names of bats in Australia. The Australasian Bat Society Newsletter. 26:pp. 37-42.

Armstrong, K.N., C.R. Trainor, D.J. Milne & C.R. Pavey (2007). Bat surveys of the Ira Lalaro - Paitchau Range tropical forest, Timor-Leste. In: Spoken presentation at the First South-East Asian Bat Conference, Phuket, Thailand, 7-10 May, 2007.

Australian Museum Business Services (AMBS) (2004a). The Provision of Data for Draft National Fauna Survey Standards: Bats Draft Report to the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage.

Bonaccorso, F.J. (1998). Bats of Papua New Guinea. Conservation International Tropical Field Guide Series 2. Washington D C: Conservation International.

Caubere, B., P. Gaucher & J.E. Julien (1984). Un record mondial de longevite in natura pour un chiroptere insectivore?. Revue Ecologie. 39:351-353.

Churchill S.K. (2009). Australian bats- Second Edition. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

Churchill, S.K. (1998). Australian Bats. Sydney: Reed New Holland.

Clague, C.L., R.B. Coles & H.J. and Spencer (1995). Survey of bat fauna in the wet tropics world heritage area of northern Queensland, Australia. In: 10th International Bat Research Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, August 1995.

Coles, R.B. (1993). Echolocation and foraging ecology of Australian horseshoe bats (Rhinolophoidea). In: Abstracts of spoken and poster papers, Sixth International Theriological Congress, Sydney, Australia 4-10 July 1993. Page(s) 55-56.

Cooper, S.J.B., T.B. Reardon & J. Skilins (1998). Molecular systematics of Australian rhinolophid bats (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae). Australian Journal of Zoology. 46:203-220.

Cracraft, J. (1983). Species concepts and speciation analysis. Johnstone, R.F, ed. Current Ornithology. Page(s) 159-187.

Csorba, G. (2002). Remarks on some types of the genus Rhinolophus (Mammalia, Chiroptera). Annales Historico-Naturales Musei Nationalis Hungarici. 94:217-226.

Csorba, P., P. Ujhelyi & N. Thomas (2003). Horseshoe bats of the world (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae). Shropshire, United Kingdom: Alana Books.

Department of Environment and Water (DEW) (2004). The Collaborative Australian Protected Areas Database (CAPAD). [Online]. Available from:

Duncan, A., G.B. Baker & N. Montgomery (1999). The Action Plan for Australian Bats. [Online]. Canberra: Environment Australia. Available from:

Fenton, M.B. (1982). Echolocation calls and patterns of hunting and habitat use of bats (Microchiroptera) from Chillagoe, North Queensland. Australian Journal of Zoology. 30:417-425.

Flannery, T.F. (1995). The mammals of New Guinea. Revised and updated edition. Page(s) 568 pp. Chatswood, N.S.W: Reed Books.

Goodwin, R.E. (1979). The bats of Timor: systematics and ecology. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 163:72-122.

Guillén-Servent, T., C.M. Francis & R.E. Ricklefs (2003). Phylogeny and biogeography of the horseshoe bats. In: Horseshoe bats of the world (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae). Page(s) xii-xxiv. Alana Books, Shropshire, United Kingdom.

Hall, L., G. Richards, N. McKenzie & N. Dunlop (1997). The importance of abandoned mines as habitat for bats. In: Hales, P and D. Lamb, eds. Conservation Outside Nature Reserves. Page(s) 326-333. Centre for Conservation Biology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Hall, L.S. (1983). Large-eared Horseshoe-bat Rhinolophus philippinensis. In: Strahan, R., ed. The Australian Museum complete book of Australian mammals. The National Photographic Index of Australian wildlife. Page(s) pp. 297. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.

Hall, L.S. (1989). Rhinolophidae. In: Walton, D.W and BJ Richardson, eds. Fauna of Australia. Mammalia. 1B:857-863. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.

Hall, L.S. & Richards, G.C. (1979). Bats of Eastern Australia. In: Queensland Museum Booklet. 12:66. Brisbane: Qld Museum.

Heaney, L.R., D.S. Balete, M.L. Dolar, A.C. Alcala, A.T.L. Dans, P.C. Gonzales, N.R. Ingle, M.V. Lepiten, W.L.R. Oliver, P.S. Ong, E.A. Rickart, B.R. Tabaranza, Jr. & R.C.B. Utzurrum (1998). A synopsis of the mammalian fauna of the Philippine islands. Fieldiana: Zoology (New Series). 88:1-61.

Kingston, T. & S.J. Rossiter (2004). Harmonic-hopping in Wallacea's bats. Nature. 429:654-657.

Koopman, K.F. (1994). Chiroptera: systematics. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, ed. Handbook of Zoology. 8, Part 60.

Kutt, A.S. (2004). Clarification of the distribution of the Long-eared Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus philippinensis complex in Australia. Australian Zoologist. 32:629-631.

Laurie, E.M.O. & J.E. Hill (1954). List of land mammals of New Guinea, Celebes and adjacent islands 1758-1952. British Museum (Natural History), London.

NRA Environmental Consultants (2010). Assessment of the Potential Impacts of a Proposed Rock Quarry at Lot 12 E124175 on the Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus philippinensis). Report to Port of Townsville Limited (EPBC 2010/5461).

Pavey, C.R and Kutt, S.A (2008). Large-eared Horseshoe-bat Rhinolophus philippinensis. In: Van Dyck, S., ed. Mammals of Australia 3rd Edition. Australian Museum.

Pavey, C.R. (1995). The foraging ecology of a guild of insectivorous bats (Rhinolophoidea) in eastern Australia: a test of resource partitioning theory. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Queensland, Brisbane (unpublished ).

Pavey, C.R. (1999). Foraging ecology of the two taxa of large-eared horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus philippinensis, on Cape York Peninsula. Australian Mammalogy. 21:135-138.

Pavey, C.R. (2002). Large-eared Horseshoe Bat, Rhinolophus philippinensis. In: R Strahan, ed. Mammals of Australia: Nature Focus, photographic library at the Australian Museum. Page(s) 451-453. Sydney: Australian Museum, Reed New Holland.

Pennay, M., B. Law & L. Reinhold (2004). Bat calls of New South Wales: Region based guide to the echolocation calls of Microchiropteran bats. Hurstville: NSW Department of Environment and Conservation.

Reinhold, L., B. Law, G. Ford & M. Pennay (2001). Key to the bat calls of south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales. Forest Ecosystem Research and Assessment Technical Paper 2001-07. Queensland: Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

Simmons, N.B. (2005). Order Chiroptera. In: Wilson, D.E and Reeder, D.M, eds. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference 3rd Edition. Page(s) 312-529. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.

Tate, G.H. (1952). Results of the Archbold expeditions. No. 67. A new Rhinolophus from Queensland (Mammalia, Chiroptera). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 1219:pp. 1-5.

Tate, G.H.H. & R. Archbold (1939). Results of the Archbold expeditions. No. 24. Oriental Rhinolophus with special reference to material from the Archbold Collections. American Museum Novitiates.

Thomson, B. (2002). Australian Handbook for the Conservation of Bats in Mines and Artificial Cave-Bat Habitats. [Online]. Melbourne: Australian Centre for Mining Environmental Research. Available from:

Thomson, B. (2007a). Personal communication. Queensland Environment Protection Agency.

Thomson, B. (undated). Unpublished reports. Queensland Environment Protection Agency.

Thomson, B., C. Pavey, and T. Reardon (2001). Recovery plan for cave-dwelling bats, Rhinolophus philippinensis, Hipposideros semoni and Taphozous troughtoni 2001-2005. [Online]. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. Available from:

Tuttle, M.D. & D. Stevenson (1982). Growth and survival of bats. In: Kunz, T.H, ed. Ecology of Bats. Page(s) 105-150. New York, Plenum Press.

Waterhouse, G.R. (1843). On various species of bats collected by H. Cuming, Esq. in the Philippine Islands. Proceedings of the Zoological Society London. 1843:66-69.

Whybird, O.J. (1996). An investigation into the vertical stratification of the Chiroptera in tropical Queensland rainforests. Hons. Thesis. BSc (Hons) thesis University of Queensland, Brisbane (unpublished).

Wilkinson, G.S. & J.M. South (2002). Life history, ecology and longevity in bats. Aging Cell. 1:124-131.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Rhinolophus philippinensis (large form) in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Tue, 23 Sep 2014 09:41:09 +1000.