Bat as food

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Paniki prepared with fruit bat meat cooked in spicy rica green chili pepper. An exotic Manado (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] and a flying fox bat species was made endangered due to being hunted there.[1] In addition to being hunted as a food source for humans, bats are also hunted for their skins.[1] Hunting techniques include netting and with a shotgun.[1] 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]


Paniki is an exotic dish of Minahasan from North Sulawesi made from fruit bat.

Soups, stews and curries using bat meat are prepared.[1] In Palau, bat soup is considered a delicacy.[11] Fruit bats are used in a Palauan soup that includes coconut milk, spices and ginger.[11]


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.[12]

Dangers of disease and toxin transmission[edit]

The hunting and consumption of bats as bushmeat is a public health risk in West Africa due to the danger of zoonotic diseases.[13] Bats are a natural reservoir for Ebola virus and Marburg virus,[14] and infected bats can pass viruses to humans who come in close contact with them.[15] Bats may also host henipaviruses and various strains of rabies.[13]

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.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k 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 – 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. ^ a b Listverse. Com's Ultimate Book of Bizarre Lists – Jamie Frater. p. 207.
  12. ^ Sao Tome and Principe – Kathleen Becker. pp. 74-79.
  13. ^ a b A.O. Kamins, O. Restif, Y. Ntiamoa-Baidu, R. Suu-Ire, D.T.S. Hayman, A.A. Cunningham, J.L.N. Wood, and J.M. Rowcliffe, Uncovering the fruit bat bushmeat commodity chain and the true extent of fruit bat hunting in Ghana, West Africa, Biological Conservation (December 2011), 144(12): 3000–3008.
  14. ^ Scientists Discover Ebola Virus in West African Bat, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, January 24, 2019.
  15. ^ Ebola virus disease, World Health Organization (May 30, 2019).
  16. ^ "Bat-Eating Linked to Neurological Illness", National Geographic, June 13, 2003

External links[edit]