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Vampire Bats Spend More Time on Social Grooming [BAT WEEK]

Oct 26, 2015 06:06 PM EDT
vampire bat
The vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, is not just flitting around Transylvania: It is social and well-groomed. These bats spent a higher proportion of their time on social grooming and bonding than several other bat species in a study.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Vampire bats, rather than pass all their time flying out of coffins, actually spend significant portions of their bat-y schedules grooming one another in cooperative social bonding. Some other bats do this too, but seem to be spending less time at it. 

What sort of warm-and-fuzzy behavior is this? Researchers say it is true, though. With help from the Organization for Bat Conservation in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., bat researcher Gerald Carter and undergraduate researcher Lauren Leffer (both from University of Maryland) studied social grooming rates of common vampire bats Desmodus rotundus and four other bat species that live in groups (Artibeus jamaicensis, Carollia perspicillata, Eidolon helvum and Rousettus aegyptiacus), according to a statement.

Of the chiroptera (bats) that were studied, vampire bats spent a chatty-beauty-salon level of 3.7 percent of their time awake on social grooming, and the other types of bats spend 0.1-0.5 percent of their time on social grooming.

The study found that vampire bats' higher levels of social grooming might be linked to their social bonding and their habit of sharing food that they've regurgitated.

As a result, the scientists believe that vampire bats are unique in the amount of time they spend on social grooming, and they published their findings recently in the journal PLOS One.

Bat Week, October 25-31, is organized by several nonprofits. During that week, Bat Conservation International has a goal for volunteers to build 5,000 new bat houses. Would you like to be involved

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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