A species of bats have been reported to be feeding on human blood. The researchers who made the discovery explain that the reason for this unusual occurrence is brought on by environmental changes, including scarcity of food.

These bats, the Diphylla Ecaudata or hairy-legged vampire bats, normally feed on guans and tinamous. However, these sources have been depleted due to deforestation and hunting.

Now, the vampire bats are also living near humans. The research team from the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, says that the bats would enter through holes in one’s roofs or windows to feed on humans and they would also target people sleeping outside in their hammocks.

The researchers were surprised by the findings as the buts were not known to be adapted to feed on the blood of mammals. But the researchers say that the bats are simply adapting to their environment. The researchers analyzed the feces of 70 bats. They were of able to extract the DNA from 15 of the bats, and three of the samples have been determined to have traces of human blood.

Previously, it was thought that the bats would only choose to prey on large birds because they can process fat, the primary component of the prey’s blood. They were not thought to be capable of processing protein, found in high levels in human blood, until now.

Other studies have shown that these hairy-legged vampire bats would rather fast than suck the blood of pigs or goat, even when these are the only blood available. Now, the findings have raised health concerns.

The bats carry rabies, which is common but dangerous viral disease that targets the central nervous systems of the infected animal, and is transmitted via saliva. The bats have also been found to carry viruses like the hantavirus, which can cause deadly respiratory diseases in humans. The researchers say that the bats should now be monitored. The team also tries to reach out to everyone in the community and inform them about the danger of vampire bat’s bite.