Vampire Bats Hunt by Sound of Victims' Breath, Study Says

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This aptitude, the scientists say, could provide a valuable clue in determining how bats are able to return to a good source of blood.

"We think that [vampire bats] memorize the breathing sounds associated with a successful feed on a prey individual," Wiegrebe said, "although we cannot rule out the possibility that smell can be used to recognize individuals."

Vampire Bats and Humans

Humans are not immune from the bats' repeat attacks, according to Wiegrebe.

"There are reports that the same humans have been bitten on subsequent nights by the same animals," he said.

The scientist says he doubts that there's any way for a person to alter his or her breathing in order to prevent return bat attacks.

"I don't think that humans can voluntarily change their breathing pattern during sleep," Wiebrege said. Vampire bats generally feed at night, he explained.

"Moreover, the individual vocal tract imposes its signature on the breathing sounds, and this signature cannot be manipulated, because it is anatomically defined."

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