Bat SONAR Beats FUIs

Pallas's long-tongued bat courtesy of Brock Fenton

“Drunk” bats have no trouble flying under the influence, a new study says.

Tropical bats of Central and South America regularly eat fermenting fruits and nectar. But they can fly and use their built-in “sonar” just as well while inebriated as while sober—even with blood-alcohol contents that would exceed legal limits for people.

“We went into the study fully expecting that some of the species wouldn’t be able to hold their drink,” said study co-author Brock Fenton, a biologist at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

But “the bats, unfortunately, hadn’t read the proposal,” he said.

Read the National Geographic writeup or the full article at PLoS ONE – rest assured that the female bats were not visibly pregnant or lactating, and all bats got a chance to sober up before they headed home. The National Geographic story also has more pictures of Central American bats, as well as other fun bat links sprinkled throughout its writeup. (Bonus: boozy shrew.)

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