The National Bank of Poland just issued their latest coin in the Animals of the World Series. It features the lesser horseshoe bat and shows flying bats, a wooden shed, and silhouettes of bats hanging upside down.
The lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) belongs to the family of horseshoe bats (Rhinolophidae). Currently, the genus consists of 77 species, five of which inhabit Europe. In Poland, the habitat of the lesser horseshoe bat covers the Kraków-Częstochowa Highland, the Polish Carpathian mountains (excluding the Tatras) and the Polish Sudety mountains. Single specimens have been spotted in Podkarpacie and Śląsk Opolski area. The most numerous population inhabits the Beskidy mountains. The lesser horseshoe bat (average weight: 4–8 grams) is one of the smallest bats living in Poland. Its fur is soft and fluffy, light brown or grey- and-brown on the dorsal side; the bat’s ventral fur is paler and greyish. Juveniles are coloured darker than adult bats.
According to the Polish Red Data Book of Animals, the species is classified as an endangered species. Adramatic decline in the population of horseshoe bats in Europe (in Poland, reaching over 90%) took place in 1950s–1980s. This came as a consequence of a widespread use of highly toxic pesticides, both in agriculture and forestry. Currently, the population of the lesser horseshoe bat appears to have reached a stable number, and showing an increase in some locations. Nevertheless, it remains a species highly in danger of extinction.