Mother Knows Best: How Bat Mothers Assist Their Puppies In Navigating The World
Mothers are the ones that bring you into this world, care for you, and help you develop a mental map of local foraging locations when you’re still clinging to their nipples as a flightless pup.
Israeli researchers released a new study in Current Biology on Wednesday that offers insight on how mammal parents help their children learn crucial life skills — in this example, Egyptian fruit bats as they soar through the night escaping predators and locating figs.
“How animals, including humans, learn their behavioral abilities is a basic subject,” one of the paper’s three authors, Yossi Yovel, a scientist at the University of Tel Aviv, told AFP.
“We all know that animals are capable of incredible feats. Every night, bats, for example, navigate dozens of kilometers to forage, and we’ve always puzzled how they learn to do so.” Many bat species fly with their young, however the energy cost of transporting a pup can be up to 40% of the mother’s own weight, and the benefits to the progeny are unknown. This was theorized, but never verified, as a way to make learning easier for children.
Yovel and his colleagues used miniature GPS trackers on dozens of mother-pup pairings as they transitioned from dependency to independence to find out for sure.
They were able to record a collection of distinct patterns, according to co-author Aya Goldshtein.
“At first, the mother and pup are inseparably linked; they fly together and the mother holds the pup throughout the night,” she stated, referring to the first three weeks of the young mammal’s life.
The “drop-off” phase follows, in which females transport their pups a few kilometers (miles) from their colony and park them in a tree.
Three to ten weeks after birth, the moms return from foraging to check on their young, feeding them and keeping them warm.
The pups then begin flying alone to the same drop-off spots during the night and returning to their roost before daylight at the age of eight to ten weeks, though their mothers’ role is not yet done, and they continue to check in.
“Imagine you have a teenager at home who is already somewhat autonomous, but you want to make sure he isn’t doing something stupid like not returning home at the end of the night,” Goldshtein explained. When puppies are unable to fly out on their own, their mothers carry them again.
Finally, at the age of ten weeks and. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.