Feeling drained? According to a new study, a vampire bat species that typically feeds on native birds has turned to sucking the blood of humans at night, likely due to human encroachment.
In the study, researchers analysed guano from hairy-legged vampire bats in northeast Brazil’s Catimbau National Park to see how they responded to man-made changes to their environment.
“How would the species behave in a situation of scarcity of wild birds and an increase in the availability of domestic animals?” wrote the study’s authors. “Could [the bat] be induced to include mammals in its diet?”
What they found in the faeces, however, was even more batshit: DNA fragments indicated the bloodsuckers regularly consumed both chicken and human blood.
“We were quite surprised,” Enrico Bernard, one of the paper’s authors, told New Scientist. “They are adapting to their environment and exploiting the new resources.”
The researchers haven’t determined how the bats are finding their newfound prey, but suspect they’re either entering bedrooms through holes in homes or sinking their teeth into people sleeping outside in hammocks.
Either way, it’s worth considering how our actions impact the tiny vampires: In 2005, more than 1,300 people contracted rabies and 23 later died from the disease after a series of bat attacks in Brazil possibly driven by deforestation. [New Scientist]