Next time you moan about the return of winter, remember that cold weather is what keeps a host of unpleasant critters away. Vampire bats currently range from Mexico to Argentina, but that could change in the next few decades. As climate change brings the tropical zone further north into the United States, tropical flora and fauna is expected to come with it. And moving is easier for animals that fly.
New research indicates that the bats’ population is on the rise at the northern edge of their range, and they may even return to the United States as climate change renders parts of Texas and Florida hospitable once more. “They’re very social and gregarious animals that have coexisted with humans for a really long time,” says coauthor Antoinette Piaggio, a molecular ecologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We’re not trying to portray these animals as something we should all be scared of.”
It could be that an infusion of blood-sucking bats will not even lead to a noticeable rise in rabies in the United States. Still, scientists must prepare for a possible vampire bat invasion. They are trying to predict where the bats will arrive, what the consequences will be, and how to prevent vampire bat-borne rabies from spreading into new places.
Even if the invasion of vampire bats pose no big threat to humans, any introduction of new species into an area can wreck the existing ecosystem. Read more about vampire bats at Popular Science. -Thanks, Walter!
(Image credit: Uwe Schmidt)