First Vampire Bats Found Drinking Human Blood

Posted: Jan 18 2017, 4:12am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

First Vampire Bats Found Drinking Human Blood
Diphylla ecaudata, a hairy-legged vampire bat captured in Mexico. Credit: Gerry Carter via Live Science
  • Human Blood is the Favorite Source of Nutrition for Vampire Bats

Apparently the favorite source of nutrition for vampire bats is human blood.

Everybody has heard of the myth of bloodthirsty vampires that haunted castles and went after humans at night-time. In real life, vampire bats however probably do not suck human blood.

Yet the latest evidence shows that they do indeed do just that. Diphylla ecaudata is also known as the hairy-legged vampire bat and it has its provenance in the northeastern regions of Brazil.

One of a trio of species of bats that drink blood, this curious creature was thought to prey on birds. However, now we know better.

Analysis of its excreta showed that another species of animals were on its hit list and they happened to be none other than humans. These bats were hard to come by.

Now that several of them have been caught and analyzed, it appears to be the case that they show great variability in their diets. Vampire bats are to be found only in the Americas, according to LiveScience.

They engage in hunting for their prey by piercing the skin of the prey with their razor sharp incisors. Then they lap up the flowing blood with gusto.

This blood is mixed with saliva all the better to keep it from congealing. These bats cannot store adipose tissue in their bodies. Also they can hardly go for long without their sustenance which is fresh blood.

The researchers were puzzled as to how a bat that had birds as its source of sustenance could manage to go without them when they were in scarce supply in the environment.

In order to find out what exactly this vampire bat was feeding on, they gathered 70 samples of its faeces. This collection process occurred in a cave in Brazil’s Catimbau National Park. DNA was isolated from these dung samples so as to find out what the bats fed upon.

The analysis report really shocked the scientists. Not only were chickens way up there on top of the bats’ menu, but humans made it to the list too.

These bats were evolved to suck on bird blood, which has more water and lipid content than mammalian blood, which contains more protein. It was probably a case of these bats supplementing their diet with bird blood and human blood in a unique ratio since both were freely available.

Since chickens and humans lived close together, they formed an ideal combination of food choices for these bats. Whenever these bats needed a supply of fresh blood, they headed to human settlements and sucked the red energy-rich fluid of both human beings and their domesticated poultry.

The findings of this study got published last month by Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences in the journal Acta Chiropterologica.

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