Vampire bats sharing food (Image by Gerry Carter)

Vampire bats sharing food (Image by Gerry Carter)

Female vampire bats form close ties between mothers and daughters, where the pair grooms and shares food with one another. But when those ties are broken, unrelated vampire bats help take over some of these duties, a new study suggests. Feeding isn’t an easy task for vampire bats, so every drop of blood shared with someone else means increased chances of going hungry. But sharing meals helps strengthen relationships, both between relatives and non-relatives. When a major food donor, like a mother or daughter, is removed from a bat’s social network, females who previously built up more friendships with non-relatives cope better with their loss. Researchers call this type of risk-taking “social bet hedging,” and it’s observed in other species—including humans.


Gerald G. Carter, Damien R. Farine, Gerald S. Wilkinson

Corresponding author:

Gerald Carter, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Email:,

Original paper published in Biology Letters on May 24, 2017.