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Animals can use different sources of information when making decisions. Foraging animals often have access to both self-acquired and socially acquired information about prey. The fringe-lipped bat, Trachops cirrhosus, hunts frogs by approaching the calls that frogs produce to attract mates.We examined howthe reliability of self-acquired prey cues affects social learning of novel prey cues. We trained bats to associate an artificial acoustic cue (mobile phone ringtone) with food rewards. Bats were assigned to treatments in which the trained cue was either an unreliable indicator of reward (rewarded 50% of the presentations) or a reliable indicator (rewarded 100% of the presentations), and they were exposed to a conspecific tutor foraging on a reliable (rewarded 100%) novel cue or to the novel cue with no tutor. Bats whose trained cue was unreliable and who had a tutor were significantly more likely to preferentially approach the novel cue when compared with bats whose trained cue was reliable, and to bats that had no tutor. Reliability of self-acquired prey cues therefore affects social learning of novel prey cues by frog-eating bats. Examining when animals use social information to learn about novel prey is key to understanding the social transmission of foraging innovations. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.