Digestive enzymes in Rhinolophus euryale (Rhinolophidae, Chiroptera) are active also during hibernation

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Abstract

During the winter, bats use hibernation as a means of surviving the period of low prey offer. However, the Mediterranean horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus euryale) arouses from torpor quite frequently. Based on the actual climatic conditions, it can profit from occasional foraging oportunities, when they occur. We analysed faeces collected on four nights during the period from November 2012 to February 2013 from the Domica-Baradla cave system (Slovakia and Hungary). In mid-November, the largest proportion of faecal contents were from Lepidoptera. Later on, the proportion of non-consumptive mass in the faeces increased and prey remnants disappeared. We analysed the activity of digestive enzymes (amylase, chitobiase, endochitinase and glukosaminidase) in faeces. The activity of these enzymes was detected in fresh faeces throughout the whole winter. The faecal activity of the chitinases was relatively stable during the monitored period, whilst the activity of amylase was highest during late November and December. Some level of active digestive enzymes during the winter could be an adaptation to occasional winter foraging.

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