Down with a cold? Don’t worry, stay batty!
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
Feeling under the weather? Nothing beats curling up in bed! Hanging out with friends can wait — we don’t want them getting sick too! But what do OTHER social animals do when they’ve got a bug?
Enter Simon Ripperger from Ohio State University. He and his colleagues looked for an answer – in the BAT-CAVE!
The scientists followed thirty-one wild female vampire bats from the same colony. Sixteen lady bats were given injections to make them FEEL sick without actually BEING sick. The rest were given a simple saline shot. Each was tagged with a sensor to monitor their behavior for three days.
Results? Bats who felt unwell kept others at wing’s-length while hanging at home! Sick-ish bats saw four fewer housemates compared to healthy bats. If they did interact, it was for twenty-five minutes shorter.
Studies like this can help us understand disease spread in wild animals!
And, once recovered, bats no longer left their friends HANGING!
Ripperger, S. P., Stockmaier, S., &Carter, G.C. (2020). Tracking sickness effects on social encounters via continuous proximity sensing in wild Vampire Bats.” Behavioral Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/araa111