Vampire bats don’t have the friendliest reputation, but it turns out that sharing a good meal with friends is as important to their social lives as it is for ours.
A new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B describes how bats cultivate large social networks, beyond just their close kin, in order to help ensure that nobody goes hungry.
Female bats hunt nightly, but not everyone comes home with a full belly. Two nights of rough-luck in a row is enough to cause death by starvation.
So they share. Someone with a stomach full of blood vomits up a little, and the hungry are fed.
In the study experiment, some bats were starved for 24 hours so that researchers could observe how successful they were at getting others to share with them. They found that lady-bats that had been more generous in the past, sharing not only with close family members but a wide circle of friends, received more blood donations when they were hungry.
Which, really, is not all that surprising. Karma’s a bitch, even if you’re a bat.