Most of the mammals can easily survive in a broad range of diet. Just like the humans, mammals get their required nutrition from the varied range of plans and animals available to them, typically choosing the ones which appear to be most appetizing at any given moment.
But some creatures also exist which require a very specialized diet to exist. Out of those few special species there are some, such as the three particular species of bats which have the unique diet of surviving only on human blood. Out of those three bat species, two are very popularly known to switch from one particular blood source to another. But the third bat species whose scientific name is Diphylla ecaudata, had previously always been considered as a bird specialist until recently when it changed its diet to human blood.
In the journal named Acta Chiropterologica a new study was published in December last year and also reported in the New Scientist for the first time, explained briefly how bats had started feeding o human blood, which according to most scientists did not seem probable. Due to the increased human activities in the Caatinga dry forests located in the northeastern region of Brazil, there has been large scale deforestation as well as hunting down of the guan and tinamou birds which were the staple diet for these bats.
Hailing from the well-established Universidade Federal de Pernambuco located in Recife, Brazil, a group of scientists tried testing the feces of these bats to check whether they had been consuming their regular diet or their food habits had changed after their normal food sources had started depleting after human intervention. They also wanted to verify if they had decided to feed on animals which were introduced in the region by humans
The researchers explained in their studies that they wanted to know “how the species would behave in a situation of scarcity of wild birds and increase in the availability of domestic animals.”
When the results of the DNA analysis of the bats came, it suggested that they used to consume chicken blood which was not such a surprise. But the tests also suggested that they consumed human blood which was astonishing.
“We were quite surprised,” Enrico Bernard who was the lead researcher informed Sandrine Ceurstemont of the New Scientist. “This species isn’t adapted to feed on the blood of mammals.” Ceurstemont also wrote that, “the bats are adapted to process fat, the main component of bird blood, as opposed to the thicker, high-protein blood of mammals.”
These changes in the dietary plans of the bats are not only creepy, rather these bats carry loads of viruses which are fatal for human beings. In the northeastern regions of Brazil, similar incidents have been the cause of a number of rabies outbreaks in the past years. In the year 2005, large scale human settlement coupled with deforestation led to the incident of another bat species biting around 1,000 people. These led to a large number of rabies incidents and caused the death of at least 23 people. The New Scientist also suggested that these hairy-legged bats were also capable of carrying the fatal hanta virus which causes several deaths amongst humans.