Imagine you're lost in the forest and the only bit of protein you spot is a bat. Assuming your trapping skills are good, should you go for it? It's true that people around the globe eat bat meat. One reason why is that it's a great source of protein, one that can be smoked or added to soups. However, bats host more viruses than any other mammal on Earth. In fact, it's believed that the Ebola outbreak of 2014 came from bats in West Africa [source: Osborne]. The real danger is not so much from eating bats but from being bitten or scratched by them during hunting or from coming in contact with their bodily fluids during cooking and preparation [source: CDC].
Ebola is not the only disease bats have been linked to. Guam's Chamorro population suffered from high rates of a strange neurological illness that, eventually, was traced to the people's consumption of the Mariana flying fox, a type of bat. This mammal, through its habit of eating seeds from cycad plants, obtains neurotoxins and thus becomes dangerous for human consumption [source: Pickrell]. The smart thing? Leave bats alone.