Wild vampire bats socially distance when they are sick, study suggests

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Oct 27, 2020, 01.35 PM(IST)

(Representative Image) Photograph:( WION Web Team )

Story highlights

The research team had previously seen this behaviour in the lab and used a field experiment to confirm it in the wild.

Bats can harbour many viruses that are potentially deadly to humans, including several dangerous viruses. Roughly 75% of the emerging infectious diseases humans face are zoonotic.

According to a new study, Wild vampire bats socially distance when they are sick. The research team had previously seen this behaviour in the lab and used a field experiment to confirm it in the wild.

The researchers captured 31 adult female vampire bats from a hollow tree in Lamanai, Belize. The team injected half the bats with lipopolysaccharide, an immune-challenging substance, to make them sick while the other half received saline injections.

Over the next three days, the researchers glued proximity sensors to the bats, released them back into their hollow tree, and tracked changes over time in the associations among all 16 “sick” bats and 15 control bats under natural conditions.

Compared to control bats, “sick” bats associated with fewer groupmates, spent less time with others, and were less socially connected to healthy groupmates when considering both direct and indirect connections.

(With inputs from agencies)

Read in App