Abstract

This study addresses the composition of microbial flora in the vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) primarily because all available data are outdated, and because of the economical significance of this bat species. Twenty-one bats were collected and their aerobic bacteria documented separately for stomach and intestine. Bacteria were identified through the Analytical Profile Index (API), and results analyzed with the APILAB software. A total of thirty bacterial species were isolated from sixteen females and five males. The most common species were Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, although other bacteria, such as Acinetobacter johnsonii, Enterobacter sakazakii, Staphylococcus chromogenes, S. hyicus and S. xylosus were also common. The number of species found in the stomach and intestine was significantly different, and the intestine presented a higher diversity compared to the stomach. This has previously been found in other mammals and it is attributed to a reduction of acidity. Most of the species found in this study are considered normal components of the digestive tract of mammals, although other bacteria common in the skin of mammals and from aquatic environments were found. Bacteria from the skin may invade the vampire’s stomach and/or intestine when the bat has contact with its prey, and may suggest that the vampire’s feeding habit facilitates the invasion of other microbes not common in its digestive tract. The fact that bacteria from aquatic environments were also found suggests that D. rotundus, as previously found by other researchers, drinks free water when available, and water may be another source of microbial invasion.