Bat as food

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Paniki prepared with fruit bat meat cooked in spicy rica green chili pepper. A Minahasan dish. Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Bats are a food source for humans in some areas. Bats are consumed in various amounts in Seychelles, Indonesia, Palau, Guam, and in some other African, Asian, and Pacific Rim countries and cultures.[1][2] In Guam, Mariana fruit bats (Pteropus mariannus) are considered a delicacy.[3][4]

Bats were also eaten in parts of Europe and Middle East in the past to a lesser extent. Bats are still eaten in parts of Africa, where in one method of capture, a cave is raided and the escaping bats' wings snagged on prickly branches.

The 1999 version of The Oxford Companion to Food states that the flavor of fruit bats is similar to that of chicken, and that they are "clean animals living exclusively on fruit".[1] Bats are prepared in several manners, such as grilled, barbecued, deep fried, cooked in stews and in stir frys.[1] When deep fried, the entire bat may be cooked and consumed.[1] Bats have a low fat content and are high in protein.[1][5]

During cooking, bats may emit strong odors reminiscent of urine and feces. This may be reduced by adding garlic, onion, chili pepper or beer during cooking.[1][5]


In the Torah and in the Bible, the book of Leviticus (11,13-19) prescribes not to eat the flesh of a bat: "These you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: (...) the bat."

Bat meat was already consumed in ancient times. In the Geographica of Strabo it is described the city of Borsippa (now Birs Nimrud in Iraq), where there was a large number of bats captured by the inhabitants, who "salad them to eat them".[6] In the sixteenth century Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi refers in his treatise Ornitologia that bats have a white meat, edible, and excellent flavor.[6]



The consumption of bat meat in Europe has been scarce, not only because of repugnance, but also because of the size of European bats, which being all insectivores are also small.[6]

In the past it has been recorded the custom of the peasants of Costozza (in the province of Vicenza, Italy) to eat bats,[7] especially horseshoe bats.[8][6] After World War II the bats of Costozza's caves were almost extinct "for the ruthless hunting that the natives make of them, at the time of the grape, in order to assimilate them with the most tasty little birds."[9] In 1959 it was reported that "in some places [of Italy], for example in Liguria and Veneto regions, the bats are or were used as food."[10] The current Italian law no. 157/1992 includes bats in the so-called "particularly protected" wildlife and punishes the killing, capture, or detention of specimens with two to eight months of jail time or a fine of 774 to 2065 euros.[citation needed]

South America

Though bat diversity in South America is especially high, bats are rarely consumed. Some indigenous peoples may consume bats, with the Nambiquara people known to consume three species of leaf-nosed bat. Live bats are sold in Bolivia for purported medicinal uses. Specifically, consuming the bats' blood is believed to treat epilepsy.[11] A 2010 study documented that per month, 3,000 bats were sold in markets in four Bolivian cities. Species sold in these markets include Seba's short-tailed bats, mouse-eared bats, and common vampire bats.[12][13]


Paniki is a dish from Minahasan, North Sulawesi made from fruit bat. Soups, stews and curries using bat meat are prepared.[1] In Palau, bat soup is considered a delicacy.[14] Fruit bats are used in a Palauan soup that includes coconut milk, spices and ginger.[14] Hot pot made with whole bat in available in some restaurants in southern China.[15]

Bat stew is a stew prepared from various types of bats.[1][5] Fruit bats are used in some versions of the dish.[5] Estufa de morcego is a bat stew delicacy in the cuisine of São Tomé and Príncipe that is served on saints days and during fiestas.[16]


Bats are most vulnerable to overhunting in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and islands of Oceania and the Indian Ocean. Bats are susceptible to overhunting as they have naturally low rates of reproduction and many species are highly colonial, which makes it easier for them to be hunted in large numbers.[13] Some species are hunted for food more often than others: Half of all megabat species are hunted for food, in comparison to only eight percent of insectivorous species.[17] Overhunting is believed to be the primary cause of extinction for the small Mauritian flying fox and the Guam flying fox.[18]

Dangers of disease and toxin transmission

It has been speculated that bats may be the natural reservoir of the Ebola virus,[19] though the evidence has been called "far from decisive".[20] Due to the possible association between Ebola infection and "hunting, butchering and processing meat from infected animals", several West African countries banned bushmeat (including megabats) or issued warnings about it during the 2013–2016 epidemic; many bans have since been lifted.[21]

Eating fruit bats is also linked to a neurological disease called lytico-bodig disease. Paul Alan Cox from the Hawaiian National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kalaheo, and Oliver Sacks from Albert Einstein College in New York, found the bats consumed large quantities of cycad seeds and appear to accumulate the toxins to dangerous levels.[22]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Extreme Cuisine: The Weird & Wonderful Foods that People Eat – Jerry Hopkins. pp. 51-53.
  2. ^ The Genie in the Bottle: 67 All-New Commentaries on the Fascinating ... - Joe Schwarcz. p. 95.
  3. ^ Texas Monthly. p. 116.
  4. ^ Bats of the United States and Canada. pp. 79-80.
  5. ^ a b c d Downes, Stephen (1 January 2006). To Die For. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 9781742660820 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c d Marco Riccucci (2014). "Pipistrelli come cibo: Aspetti etnografici e sanitari". Alimenti & Bevande. XVI (6): 39–43.
  7. ^ Giovanni Arduino. Nuova Raccolta d'opuscoli scientifici e filosofici del Calogerà. VI. Venice. pp. 133–180.
  8. ^ Alessandro P. Ninni, 1878
  9. ^ Giuseppe Perin, Scienza e poesia sui Berici, a cura di G. Da Schio, G. Trevisol e G. Perin, Vicenza, Tip. Commerciale, 1947
  10. ^ A. Toschi; B. Lanza (1959). Mammalia: Generalità, Insectivora, Chiroptera. Fauna d'Italia. Bologna.
  11. ^ Fine Maron, Dina (7 December 2018). "Bats are being killed so people can suck their blood". National Geographic. National Geographic Partners, LLC. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  12. ^ Lizarro, D.; Galarza, M. I.; Aguirre, L. F. "Tráfico y comercio de murciélagos en Bolivia Traffic and trade of Bolivian bats". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ a b Mickleburgh, Simon; Waylen, Kerry; Racey, Paul (2009). "Bats as bushmeat: A global review". Oryx. 43 (2): 217. doi:10.1017/S0030605308000938.
  14. ^ a b Listverse. Com's Ultimate Book of Bizarre Lists – Jamie Frater. p. 207.
  15. ^ Yoo, Patrick C. Y. (2019). "Viruses and Bats". Viruses. 11 (10): 884. doi:10.3390/v11100884. PMC 6832948. PMID 31546572.
  16. ^ Sao Tome and Principe – Kathleen Becker. pp. 74-79.
  17. ^ Mildenstein, T.; Tanshi, I.; Racey, P. A. (2016). "Exploitation of Bats for Bushmeat and Medicine". Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World. Springer. p. 327. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-25220-9_12. ISBN 978-3-319-25218-6.
  18. ^ Pierson, E. D.; Rainey, W. E. (1992). "The biology of flying foxes of the genus Pteropus: a review". Biological Report. 90 (23).
  19. ^ "Ebola virus disease". World Health Organization. May 30, 2019.
  20. ^ Leendertz, Siv Aina J.; Gogarten, Jan F.; Düx, Ariane; Calvignac-Spencer, Sebastien; Leendertz, Fabian H. (2016). "Assessing the Evidence Supporting Fruit Bats as the Primary Reservoirs for Ebola Viruses". Ecohealth. 13 (1): 18–25. doi:10.1007/s10393-015-1053-0. PMID 26268210.
  21. ^ Zon, H.; Petesch, C. (21 September 2016). "Post-Ebola, West Africans flock back to bushmeat, with risk". Associated Press. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  22. ^ "Bat-Eating Linked to Neurological Illness", National Geographic, June 13, 2003

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