Nature & Environment
Vampire bats now have taste for human blood
By T.K. Randall
January 13, 2017 · 16 comments
Vampire bat skeleton showing the animal's distinctive fangs. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 Mokele
Researchers in Brazil have warned that some vampire bat populations have started targeting humans.
The infamous flying blood-sucking mammals typically only ever feed on large birds such as chickens, but now several of the bats living in Catimbau National Park in north-east Brazil have shown worrying signs of expanding their diet to include human blood as well.
The discovery was made by Enrico Bernard and colleagues from the Federal University of Pernambuco who analyzed samples of scat to determine what the bats had been eating.
Normally vampire bats are only able to process the fat of bird blood and will rather starve than attempt to feast on the high-protein blood of mammals.
The change is a significant concern as vampire bats are responsible for the spread of rabies in the region and if they are starting to attack humans then it could lead to new outbreaks.
"They are adapting to their environment and exploiting the new resources," said Bernard.
Source: New Scientist
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