It turns out even vampire bats 'socially distance' when they are sick
Brock Fenton

Just in time for Halloween, perhaps those sceptical of coronavirus health guidelines should follow in the footsteps of… wild vampire bats?

A new study suggests that vampire bats "socially distance" when they are sick.

Dozens of bats were captured in Belize, and some were injected with a substance that mimics the symptoms of a bacterial infection, while the other half got saline injections.

Researchers tagged them with sensors and released them back into the wild to track their movements.

The study, published in the journal Behavioural Ecology, found a ‘control’ bat had a 35 per cent chance of associating with a sick bat – and a 49 per cent chance of associating with a healthy one.

"This sickness-induced 'social distancing' can be important for modelling pathogen transmission as a social network changes over time," the researchers said.

While this may be an important scientific discovery, it was not lost on anyone that many humans seem unable to socially distance properly – despite being in the midst of a pandemic.

"We could (and should!) take an example from vampire bats about social distancing," one person tweeted about the nocturnal creatures. "Seems like vampire bats are very sensible creatures and care for their community...we could all learn from them..." another said.

Turns out, like one Twitter user put it, “If vampire bats can socially distance, then so can you.”

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