Vampire bats set up friendships by sharing regurgitated blood with their neighbours in a “kind of horrifying French kiss”, a brand new examine says.
Researchers observing the mammals stated their sharing behaviours gave the impression to be an essential facet of their bonding.
If bats go three days with out consuming, they will die of hunger, so sharing the blood is usually a life-saving act.
The examine, printed within the journal Current Biology, aimed to find out how the species developed relationships.
It discovered that when the vampire bats grew to become remoted in a roost, pairs unfamiliar with each other – however in shut proximity – would start grooming, then “mouth-licking” earlier than swapping meals.
“We go from bats starting as strangers from different colonies to groupmates that act to save each other’s life,” stated Prof Gerald Carter, creator of the examine and behavioural ecologist at Ohio State University.
“They have this ‘boom and bust’ foraging experience, so they either hit it big and get a large blood meal or they’re starved for that night.
“Food sharing in vampire bats is like how a lot of birds regurgitate food for their offspring. But what’s particular with vampire bats is that they do that for different adults,” Prof Carter stated.
He added that the bats would groom even after their fur had been cleansed, suggesting that the behaviour was not simply a problem of sustaining hygiene.
Vampire bats are the one mammals to feed solely on blood, which they get by biting bigger animals corresponding to cattle.
The flying creatures can drink as much as half their weight in blood a day, in contrast to their different bat family members, which typically dine on fruit, nectar or bugs.
In November, a scientific examine found that bats that kind bonds whereas in captivity usually proceed their relationships when launched again into the wild.