Mother bats prod along their young, researchers find

Peters’ tent-making bats appear under a leaf. Researchers found mothers prod their young with their forearms, a behavior never documented before. ©Thomas Hiller

Biologists studying Peters’ tent-making bats (Uroderma bilobatum) noticed a behavior that’s never been documented before. Mothers prod their young with their forearms, possibly encouraging them to fledge and wean. “Our study highlights how little we still know about the secret lives of these amazing creatures, even something as significant as the relationship between a mother and her baby,” Jenna Kohles, masters student at the University of Konstanz and Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, told Smithsonian. The lead author on a study of the developing bats published in PLOS ONE, Kohles did her fieldwork in Panama as an intern at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute while she was an undergraduate at Clemson University.

Watch the video describing her research and this novel behavior.