They know how to bat-ten down the hatches.Despite being blamed for allegedly spreading the coronavirus, certain species of bats are masters of self-isolating when sick, according to a new study by the University of Texas.
“When they are sick and feeling bad, they [bats] are not interested in social interactions,” lead researcher Sebastian Stockmaier tells the New York Times.
Indeed, in the study published in the journal Biology Letters, hypersocial vampire bats were found to “decrease physical social encounters through reduced movement” when under the weather. They also significantly dialed back their grooming and mating habits.
And while healthy bats call out for each other when apart, their immunocompromised counterparts will vocalize less, effectively reducing “the probability of physical contact between individuals.” In turn, they decrease the likelihood of transmitting illnesses, according to the study.
To determine whether the bloodsuckers practice social distancing, the researchers injected 18 female bats with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a chemical that triggers an immune response without the adverse effects of an infection. Later they performed a control study in which the same bats were only injected with saline.
In both experiments, they removed the flying rodents from the larger group — but still within earshot — and then documented the frequency of their calls.
They found that the LPS caused “female vampire bats to produce 30% fewer contact calls, with 15 of 18 bats producing fewer contact calls” during the sickness simulation compared to the control study.
Unfortunately, the bloodthirsty critters don’t self-isolate as a disease-prevention policy. Rather, the researchers concluded that they just feel too ill to interact — like a sick kid taking a rain check on a playdate.
Still, their inadvertent social-distancing measure seems leaps and bounds above many humans’ capabilities. Over the last few weeks, the US has seen COVID-19 fatalities skyrocket in 27 states as people continue to ignore social-distancing measures amid reopening efforts.
Most recently, Florida has seen a surge in “COVID-19 parties,” where people throw massive soirees in gated communities with the goal of spreading the coronavirus, according to local authorities.
Originally published at New york post