The eating habits of the hairy vampire bat are changing, these animals are known to ingest only bird blood, now a study has shown that these animals also feed on human blood.
This discovery, conducted by a group of Brazilian scientists, was published in the latest edition of the scientific journal Acta Chiropterologica, and this study was carried out in the Catimbau National Park, in the Pernambuco region, about 300 km from Recife.
For this investigation, 70 samples of feces from a colony of Diphylla ecaudata, better known as a vampire-legged bat, were analyzed. For this purpose, the scientists extracted DNA from 15 of the samples, and in three of them they found traces of human blood.
At the time of publication of this study, only three species of bats were known to feed on human blood. “Our study shows that another species, which only ate from bird blood, started to eat human blood”, one of the authors of the study told the BBC.
The professor of the Department of Zoology of the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), said that the blood of birds is richer in fats, and that of mammals, is thicker containing more protein.
“We knew that this species had a physiological condition to digest only bird blood, but this condition seems to be changing, since it also began to feed on human blood”, said the researcher.
Some suggestions for this change in eating habits of this type of animal are for example the “significant restriction of native prey, which are disappearing from human-occupied habitats”.
One of the greatest risks to humans associated with these bats eating disorder is the spread of disease. “Bats transmit a number of diseases, and if this species is feeding on human blood, we will have to deal with a potential public health problem”, he added.