Bat rabies - Video
This text will be replaced
Behavioural observations in some rabid bats
by Zomer Bruijn, Amersfoort, Netherlands
Within a period of two months from February 25th,
2003, I received three diseased male Serotine bats (Eptesicus serotinus)
respectively found in the town of Putten, the city of Amersfoort and the village
of Ochten (The Netherlands). The bats died after some days in captivity and were
submitted to the Central Institute for Animal Disease Controle (CIDC-Lelystad)
where rabies was diagnosed in all three specimens.
During captivity the behaviour of the bats was observed,
and in one case also with a video camera. The bats were emaciated but refused
any offered mealworm. Just one animal was drinking water occasionally, however
with difficulty. All three bats appeared to be hypersensitive to sounds. Almost
no reaction followed low frequency sounds, but higher frequency sounds
immediately caused fierce reactions of prolonged loud screaming and uncontrolled
wing beats (Figure). The intensity of wing beats, apparently unsuccessful
attempts at take-off, was connected with the remaining vitality of the animals.
One of the bats initially showed strong uncontrolled wing beats and regularly
ended up on its back.
After one week this animal was considerably enfeebled and only showed some weak
wing beats and short screaming after high frequency sounds.
The bats showed a strong biting behaviour. A mealworm
offered with forceps was repeatedly bitten, after which it was refused. The
forceps were also often bitten viciously. One of the bats seriously attacked the
forceps when they were moved along the snout. Sometimes the animal fastened its
teeth to the forceps with such fierceness that the bat could be lifted up for
about 20 seconds. When quiet, the bat was often seen biting on the piece of
cloth on which it was lying, sometimes for several minutes. Sometimes it kept
the cloth in it mouth while sleeping. Between the times with abnormal behaviour
the bats also showed normal behaviour, such as grooming their wings and fur.
Summarizing, each of the bats demonstrated to a lesser or greater degree the
inability to fly
loss of weight
hypersensitivity for high frequency sounds
loud (prolonged) screaming and uncontrolled wing beats after high frequency sounds
strong tendency to bite and aggressive reactions.
Rabid bats in the final stage of the disease may not show these symptoms.
Notes of the editor
The video sequence mentioned in this article has kindly been made
available to the Rabies Bulletin Europe by Zomer Bruijn from Amersfoort, The
Netherlands. It is available for viewing on the website of the Rabies Bulletin (www.who-rabies-bulletin.org).
This article was translated and edited by Peter Lina, Netherlands
and Tony Hutson, UK from the original paper: Bruijn, Z. (2003). Het gedrag van
hondsdolle vleermuizen. Zoogdier. 14(3), 27-28.