Wild vampire bats, that were previously only thought to feed on the blood of birds, have been caught feeding on humans for the first time. Analysis of feces samples from 70 of hairy-legged vampire bats, D. ecaudata, living in Catimbau National Park in north-east Brazil showed three samples out of the 15 the researchers managed to get DNA from had traces of human blood. Researchers believe human intrusion in the national park and disappearance of its usual prey, such as such as guans and tinamous, due to deforestation and hunting, may be driving the species to try new blood.
Vampire bats are only adapted to feed on bird blood, which is rich in fat. And human blood, because of thicker, high-protein content, is difficult for them to process. Previous studies showed that many bats chose to fast and even starve to death, rather than attempting to try pig or goat blood, reports New Scientists. The species’ new habits are raising health concerns since vampire bats are known to be major transmitters of rabies. The findings have been published in the journal Acta Chiropterologica.
Reference: What is for Dinner? First Report of Human Blood in the Diet of the Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat Diphylla ecaudata – Acta Chiropterologica