- A bat in Borneo roosts in a carnivorous plant, which it feeds by defecating and urinating in the plant's pitchers.
- Since the bat receives shelter from the plant and the plant gets food, both benefit from the arrangement.
- This is only the second documented case of a mutualistic association between a carnivorous plant and a mammal.
A bat and a carnivorous plant in Borneo enjoy an unusual, mutually beneficial relationship, according to a new paper. The bat roosts and relieves itself in the plant's prey-trapping pitchers, feeding the plant.
The discovery, outlined in the latest Royal Society Biology Letters, represents only the second known case of a mutualistic association between a carnivorous plant and a mammal. The other case was reported in 2009, when scientists saw three tree shrews pooping into the pitchers of another carnivorous plant.
Although both the bat and the carnivorous plant prey on insects, they are not in competition with each other.
"The bats do not eat the often putrefied insects from the pitcher fluid," lead author Ulmar Grafe told Discovery News. "Even if they wanted to, the pitcher tapers too much to allow the bat access. The bats literally get stuck, that is they wedge themselves in the pitcher below the girdle and cannot wiggle further down towards the pitcher fluid."