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Why fruit-eating bats eat dirt
Date:4/22/2008

Dont eat the green parts of tomatoes, cut the green off the potatoes. Any child would know that eating these parts of vegetables is a bad idea. The reason behind this is that they contain secondary plant compounds which may have detrimental effects on the consumer.

Each night, tropical fruit-eating bats ingest large amounts of secondary plant compounds with their food. This may become particularly problematic for pregnant or lactating bat mothers, since secondary plant compounds may damage the embryo or the juvenile. Now,a scientific study describes for the first time how female fruit-eating bats deal with this situation. In a study published in the online journal PLoS ONE, researchers from the Berlin Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), Boston University and Cornell University, found evidence that fruit-eating bats take up large amounts of mineral rich water and clay from so-called mineral licks to detoxify the secondary plant compounds they ingest in fruits.

Bats include more than 1200 species, represent the second most species rich mammalian group and are important seed dispersers in tropical rain forests. Dr. Christian Voigt and his colleagues captured pregnant and lactating bats at mineral licks in the Amazonian rainforest of Ecuador.

At first glance it seemed that bats visit these sites for the same purpose as other animals such as large tapirs or birds, i.e. to meet their daily mineral requirements, Voigt describes their initial thoughts when they started the study. Bat mothers have particularly high mineral demands, because their juveniles cannot be weaned before they have reached almost adult size.

To our amazement, we found fruits to be relatively rich in minerals compared to insects, states Dr. Voigt. In the present study, the researchers focused on one bat species that feeds on both fruits and insects.

The study demonstrates that although insects and not fruits had a low mineral cont
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Contact: Dr. Christian Voigt
voigt@izw-berlin.de
49-305-168-517
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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