A fruit bat beside drawings of the Coronavirus

Unlike many humans, it seems, bats are more sensible when it comes to curbing the spread of disease among their colonies.

A new study found out that bats practice social distancing among other members of their colony when they are sick, Earth.Com reported. 

To be specific, vampire bats spend less time with their colony when they do not feel healthy. 

In effect, it slows down the transmission of disease to other bats. 

Researchers, according to Earth.Com, have observed the mammal’s behavior in the lab.

Another experiment in the field validated their first findings in the laboratory.

A fruit bad dangling from a tree

The Experiment

The Behavioural Ecology journal originally published the study.

According to the study, researchers captured around a hundred vampire bats from a colony inside a hollow tree in Lamanai, Belize.

The researchers then randomly chose bats for the control and test groups and adjusted them to balance the samples.

Researchers injected half of the group with a substance mimicking sickness among the species.

The other group, on the other hand, was given saline injections. 

Later on, researchers release and tag the bats with sensors so they can monitor their movements and behaviors.

The Results

“Sick” bats, according to the results associated with fewer members of their colony and spend less time with them. 

In addition, they found out that sick bats also lessen their social connections with healthy members of the colony. 

Social grooming, even when researchers forced them to associate with each other has also dramatically decreased. 

Social grooming can actually further enhance the transmission of sickness from one animal to the other.

Spreader of Viral Diseases 

Bats can carry different “zoonotic viruses” including SARS-CoV, MERS, CoV, Ebola virus, and possibly, SARS-CoV-2, per Science Daily.

However, despite the array of viruses they carry, scientists found out that these flying mammals have unique strategies that protect them from getting sick from those viruses.

Scientists from Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore found out the reasons. 

According to scientists, bats accommodate and transfer “zoonotic pathogens” without activating the dangerous effects of “immune activation.” 


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