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Naked and Afraid exclusive: Survivalists risk disease by hunting BATS to eat

On tonight’s Naked and Afraid, survivalist Steven Townes and his partner Ava Holmes are in dire need of protein — but his solution will turn a lot of people’s stomachs, as he starts to hunt for BATS.

Catching the winged mammals is a dangerous business, as air-born spores in their excrement can be breathed in unwittingly and lead to histoplasmosis, a disease which can cause problems with the nervous system and potentially death.

Steven, unsure as to the risks, suggests that when they eat the bats they avoid the “spine and brains” and cook the animals well through to reduce the risk of catching anything.

Eating bats is a desperate move for the pair, who are attempting to survive in the wilderness of Mexico with practically nothing for 21 days.

In Monsters and Critics’ exclusive clip they decide to go ahead with the bat-eating plan — but Steven has to catch them first. To do so he cleverly fashions a net from mesh tarp he discovered by chance in the woods, and makes a pair of shoes from the same material to protect his feet from the jagged limestone rocks.

Steven with the bat-catching net
Steven with the net he fashions out of mesh to help in his hunt
Steven Townes on Naked and Afraid
Steven Townes as he attempts to hunt bats inside a cave on Naked and Afraid

Because of the risk of histoplasmosis, cuts on his feet are the least of his worries — as hunting for the bats will be a potentially life or death task for survival.

The disease is of a real concern to Steven, as the bats he wants to catch are inside a contained cave where the temperature nears 100°F (37°C) and the animals are flying in close proximity to him.

Most people with histoplasmosis never develop symptoms but people like Steven, who are depleted nutritionally and suffering stress, have more compromised immune systems. That means the disease could be deadly serious if he gets it.

Surviving in the wilderness can be too much for some, and Ava actually starts the episode with another survivalist, Larry Little, but he taps out within the first few days and is replaced by Steven.

Also tonight, one survivalist literally falls into a huge fire from exhaustion and starvation after weeks of depleted energy.

And when the pair cook up a plan to try and stick it out the full 21-days, will it work?

Naked and Afraid airs Sundays at 10/9c on Discovery.

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