Vampire Bats have developed a taste for human blood and our participation in environmental changes might have something to do with it. These creatures were thought to feed exclusively on that of large birds, but for the first time traces of human blood has been found.
A study conducted in Recife, Brazil by Enrico Bernard from the Federal University of Pernambuco and his team tested the feces of 70 bats found living in Catimbau National Park. They discovered that 3 out of 15 they had managed to get DNA from contained traces of human blood which was surprising.
In studies conducted in the past, it was discovered that these bats would only prey on large birds at night, taking in a teaspoon of blood as one meal. It was even tested that when only pigs and goats were available, the bats opted to fast or even starve.
So what’s changed now that is causing bats to seek out other forms of prey including us? Well, it’s all the environmental changes caused by—you guessed it—humans. There are several humans living in the same area as the park and this may have caused the bats to have to explore their options as the humans moved in, and the birds moved out.
The research team also concluded that a lot of the samples they tested contained blood from chickens. “They are adapting to their environment and exploiting the new resources,” said Bernard.
Thanks to humans deforestation and hunting, several of the bats common prey have been disappearing, leaving the bats to seek out other options such as the chickens kept on surrounding farms.
Basically, the bats are evolving in order to survive, but these new meal plans pose concerns for humans as the bites could spread disease as vampire bats can potentially transmit rabies (if you happen to be bit by the 0.5% that carry the disease). Bernard and his team are continuing to investigate, research, and suspect that bats are entering people’s homes through holes in roofs and windows, or targeting those sleeping in hammocks outdoors. “We want to find out how often they are being bitten,” said Bernard, “when and how.”