For the first time in the species’ history, a type of vampire bat has started to feed on humans in Brazil. A group of scientists from the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil found this out by analyzing the feces of the vampire bats and finding human blood in their samples.
According to a study by a group of scientists in the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, a type of vampire bat has reportedly started feeding on human blood for the first time, after being known to exclusively feed on bird blood.
Enrico Bernard and his team analyzed the feces of a group of vampire bats and found human blood in a few of the samples.
They analyzed the feces of 70 bats, and extracted DNA from 15 of them. 3 of those 70 samples were found to have traces of human blood.
“We were quite surprised,” Enrico Bernard, who led the study, told Sandrine Ceurstemont from New Scientist. “This species isn’t adapted to feed on the blood of mammals.” He explained that bats “are adapted to process fat, the main component of bird blood, as opposed to the thicker, high-protein blood of mammals.”
Therefore, their feeding on humans is a shock to scientists. In previous studies, it was found that these bats have opted to fast rather than feed on goat or pig blood when bird blood was unavailable, which makes this finding even more surprising.
Scientists suggest that this could be due to human encroachment on bats’ territory, forcing bats to become “more adventurous,” when looking for food.
Bernard hypothesized that bats have probably been entering homes through holes in the roofs, windows or walls, and may also target people who sleep on hammocks outside.
It remains unclear whether this is a growing trend in vampire bats, or whether these findings indicate a significant or permanent change in bat behaviour. These findings could also show a coincidental occurrence- if the bats were approached/attacked by humans etc.