Vampire bats 'socially distance' when they are sick, new study says
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Vampire bats 'socially distance' when they are sick, new study says

A NEW study has revealed that human beings aren't the only ones playing their part by isolating when they are feeling ill.

The Behavioural Ecology journal has published a new study on the behaviour of Vampire bats when sick-- and found that, like us, they maintain a social distance from each other when feeling unwell.

Researchers in Central America forced half to bats to become sick by injecting them with immune-challenging substance lipolysaccharide, and the other half with saline, before releasing them into 'natural conditions' and watching their behaviour over the next three days.

The study found that the sick bats showed "a clear decrease in social connectedness", and the healthy bats apparently avoided spending time near the others for around 48 hours.

The study found that the sick bats showed "a clear decrease in social connectedness", and the healthy bats apparently avoided spending time near the others for around 48 hours. (Picture: iStock)
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The sick bats engaged in fewer mating calls and social grooming, even when all of the Vampire bats were forced into close quarters with one another, with the study finding that healthy bats had a 49% chance of spending time with a healthy bat, but just 35% chance of associating with a sick bat.

Researchers Simon Ripperger, Sebastian Stockmaier and Gerald Carter said the "sickness-induced 'social distancing' can be important for modelling pathogen transmission as a social network changes over time".

The study was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and the American Museum of Natural History.

You can read the full study on the behaviour of Vampire bats here.