Bats and Viruses
Scientists know that the coronavirus comes from bats. Many other viruses come from bats, too. Scientists want to know why. More than 1,300 kinds of bats are in the world. Some bats live in caves. Some bats live in forests.
Different bats eat different food. Some bats eat fruit. Some bats eat small animals like frogs, birds, or fish. Some bats drink animal blood. This can be a reason why many different viruses live in bats.
Bats have long lives. This is good for viruses. They have enough time to grow. Bats can fly. This means that their bodies are warm. It can be the reason why viruses are dangerous. They can live in warm places.
The coronavirus and many other dangerous viruses in the past came from bats and scientists wonder why.
There are more than 1,300 kinds of bats and they are very different. Some bats eat fruit, some eat small animals, and some even drink the blood of other animals. Some bats live in forests and some live in caves. This diversity is probably a reason why bats host so many viruses. Scientists found out that bats host more viruses that can infect people than rats.
Bats live quite long which means that viruses have more time to develop. Since bats fly, their body temperature is higher. This can be another reason why some viruses are so dangerous. They can live in warmer places.
The COVID-19 outbreak originated from bats, like many deadly viruses in the past, including the Ebola outbreaks in Western Africa.
Studies have shown that bats are a natural reservoir to many different viruses, some of which have led to disease outbreaks. There are more than 1,300 different species in 20 families with some species roosting in forests while others in caves.
Some eat insects, some eat fruit seeds and pollen, while others eat small animals such as birds, fish, and frogs. Some bats even feed on animal blood. This diversity may create the virus diversity and studies have shown that bats host more zoonotic viruses than even rodents.
Other traits that make bats suitable as virus hosts include their size and longevity. Bats have long life spans that make it easier for viruses to persist. Also, bats are the only mammals capable of flying, which leads to higher body temperatures similar to human fevers. This means that some viruses have adapted to be more tolerant to high temperatures.