Generally categorized as ‘monsters’ because of their controversial diets, vampire bats are highly social and perhaps misunderstood where it concerns the lengths they would go to in order to survive.
- The researcher studied a number of 127 bats and their interaction
- During the course of just 10 minutes, there was at least one interaction per every 10 seconds (grooming, feeding or aggression)
- Vampire bats spend 6% of their time awake grooming
- They also share meals with others who could not find a food source
Gerald Carter has taken to studying a number of 127 bats, watching their behavior among themselves and other species. His attention was captured around the Desmodus rotundus, more commonly known as the vampire bat. Its name is driven from the simple fact that it gains its food and water strictly from the blood of other animals, such as cows or deer.
For that reason, they have been mostly been painted an unfortunate image that they hardly ever shake off. With Halloween approaching, Carter sheds a bit of light on the complexities of their interaction.
Vampire bats were found to be spending 6% of their time grooming each other. This is 14 times more than any other bat species. It’s a social behavior that implies licking or biting one another, even if they were free of any sort of parasites. According to Carter, the time they spent grooming each other has nothing to do with bothersome mites. In fact, their habits remained the same no matter what.
These particular species of bats have shown themselves to have highly complex social interactions. This is due to the unique way vampires feed. Not only do they feast on blood, which is enough of a trademark in itself, but they also regurgitate their meals to others. Previous studies have found that 20% of vampire bats do not find a source of blood each night.
One specimen can last up to three days without a meal, and then it might die off due to starvation. However, in order to maintain their population, vampire bats who are lucky enough to find an animal to feed upon share with the others. Essentially, they share a meal with those who have not been able to find food themselves. In spite of the bit disgusting manner, by vomiting blood from one to another, it’s a rather touching gesture.
This assures their survival as a group. Furthermore, it’s another important social aspect of their lives. For example, it has been observed that it holds a certain quid pro quo quality to it. One vampire bat might return the favor of sharing his meal, or provide with an ‘investment’ of sort for future grooming. One brings the food, the other dedicates extra time grooming the provider.
It’s an exceptional proof of complex social behavior that no other species of bats have displayed. It showed that vampire bats take care of each other, be it by grooming or sharing a lovely meal.
Image source: student.societyforscience.org