Health Editor’s Note: For a group of mammals that often get bad press, these guys and girls behave like good/caring humans would. Or maybe it is the other way around and good/caring humans have the traits of bats…..Carol
By Elisabeth King/Smithsonianmag.com
During a study with captive vampire bats at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama, a young vampire bat pup was adopted by an unrelated female after its mother died. Although this observation was not the first report of adoption in vampire bats, it is uniquely contextualized by more than 100 days of surveillance-camera footage. This footage captured by STRI research associate Gerry Carter’s lab at Ohio State University reveals intimate details about the changing social relationships between the mother, the pup and the adoptive mother throughout their time in captivity.
“The adoption took place after a very sad but ultimately serendipitous occurrence,” said Imran Razik, then short-term fellow at STRI and doctoral student at the Ohio State University. “We realized after the mother died and the other female stepped in to adopt the baby, that we had recorded the entire social history of these two adult female bats who met for the first time in captivity. The strong relationship they formed based on grooming and sharing food with each other may have motivated this adoption.”