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Black Mouse-Eared Bats Not Strictly Carnivorous

Nov 10, 2015 01:15 PM EST

Black mouse-eared bats have broken the status quo and adopted a more plant based diet than their insect-eating relatives, according to a Brazilian team of researchers. Mouse-eared bats (Myotis nigricans) represent the largest and most diverse group of bats that, until recently, were thought to feed exclusively on insects. Now it appears they also enjoy snacking on fruits.

The team of researchers, led by biologist Roberto Leonan Morim Novaes, originally came across fruit-eating Black mouse-eared bats in Rio de Janeiro's Reserva Ecologica de Guapiacu (REGUA). For their study, they captured a number of individuals in mist-nets from which they later collected fecal samples which revealed small seeds, suggesting the bats had eaten local fruits. This is the first known evidence of fruit consumption among mouse-eared bats, according to a news release.

"The discovery of a well-studied species, previously considered strictly insectivorous, foraging on fruits shows how little we know about the biology and natural history of Neotropical bats," the authors wrote in their study.

Mouse-eared bats can be seen throughout parts of Eurasia and northern Africa where they often reside in caves or open forests. They are relatively large, nocturnal bats with long ears and a broad wingspan.

The recent study highlights the diverse eating habits of bats and proves that black mouse-eared bats play a key role in dispersing seeds throughout the reserve and ensuring the growth of local fauna.

The findings were recently published in Biodiversity Data Journal.

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