Posted on August 8, 2007 Comments (3)
“We found that nectar-feeding bats made use of the sugar they were drinking for their metabolism within minutes after drinking it, and after less than half an hour they were fuelling 100% their metabolism from this source. For comparison, the highest rates reported in humans are for athletes who can fuel up to 30% of their metabolism directly from power drinks,” they say.
Small nectar-feeding bats have among the highest metabolic costs among mammals, and mostly eat a diet low in fat and protein but rich in sugars. Metabolising these sugars immediately they are consumed saves the costs of converting them to and from storage.”
In a second experiment, Voigt and Speakman measured how fast the bats used their meagre fat stores. “We found the bats depleted almost 60% of their fat stores each day, but even this phenomenal rate was still barely enough to sustain their metabolism when nectar was absent. This underlines how accurately these bats must balance their energy requirements every day and how vulnerable they are to ecological perturbations that might interrupt their fuel supply for even a short period,” they say.
Nectar-feeding bats live in south and central America and are among the smallest of all living mammals, weighing less than 10g. They feed at night and can ingest up to 150% of their body weight as nectar.
That really is amazing.