Wild vampire bats are now sucking blood from humans at night

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Human blood is now on the menu. Wild vampire bats that were thought to exclusively feed on bird blood have been caught feeding on people for the first time, raising health concerns. Enrico Bernard from the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, and his team analysed 70 faeces samples from a colony of hairy-legged vampire bats, D. ecaudata, living in Catimbau National Park in north-east Brazil. They found that three samples out of the 15 they managed to get DNA from had traces of blood from humans. “We were quite surprised,” says Bernard. “This species isn’t adapted to feed on the blood of mammals.” The bats typically target large birds at night-time, sucking a spoonful of blood from a single animal as a meal. They are adapted to process fat, the main component of bird blood, as opposed to the thicker, high-protein blood of mammals. Previous experiments showed that when only pig and goat blood was available, many bats opted to fast, sometimes starving to death. But human encroachment may be driving the species to try new blood. The park is now home to several human families and the bat’s usual prey, such as guans and tinamous, are disappearing due to deforestation and hunting.

Read More: New Scientist


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