A new study has found that vampire bats “socially diverge” when sick.
Dozens of bats have been captured from a hollow tree in Belize. Some people were injected with a substance that mimics the symptoms of a bacterial infection, while the other half got a saline solution injection and placed in a control group.
The researchers tagged them with sensors and released them back into their tree to track their movements over several days.
Sick bats spent less time near others, were associated with fewer group mates and were less social with healthy animals.
Just six hours after the injection, a sick bat was, on average, bound to four fewer bats than those injected with saline.
Researchers said: “The bats in the control group encountered fewer“ sick ”bats and spent less time near them.
studying, Published in Behavioral Ecology, found that a control bat had a 35% chance of bonding with a sick bat – but a 49% chance of bonding with a healthy bat.
“The ‘social distancing’ that results from disease could be important for modeling pathogen transmission as the social network changes over time,” said researchers Simon Rieberger, Sebastian Stockmayer and Gerald Carter.
They said the effects varied with the time of day and decreased over 48 hours.
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