Vampire Bats

A Common Vampire Bat, Desmodus Rotundus
A Common Vampire...
Joel Sartore
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Vampire Bats are Misunderstood

Vampire Bats are frequently misunderstood and feared.

What do you really know about Vampire Bats?  Do you fear them? Do you hate them?  Do you think they would be part of your worst nightmare?

Let's hang with the vampire bats and find out who really is misunderstood!





The Mammal


  • Bats are the only mammals that can fly
  • Vampire bats have an even more interesting distinction-they are the only mammals that feed entirely on blood. 
  • Body Size ~ 3 - 3.5 in & Wingspan ~ 7-8 in 
  • Soft and velvety light brown furry bodies 
  • Weight: less than 2 oz 
  • Nocturnal 
  • Excellent Sight ~ they can see a cow from a distance of 420 feet away 
  • Vampire bats live in caves, tree hollows, old wells, and abandoned houses 
  • Fly about 3 feet off the ground 
  • They can walk, run and jump 
  • Average lifespan in the wild: About 9 years, but can live up to 20 years in captivity 
  • Female bats form attachments to one another that can last for many years 
  • Very clean, like other mammals they frequently groom themselves as well as other bats. 
  • If they don't find blood for 2 nights in a row, they will die 
  • Live in Mexico and South America 
  • They typically gather in colonies of about 100 animals, but sometimes live in groups of 1,000 or more

The Myth


Thanks in part to the movies, we envision a Vampire Bat as a blood sucking demon that swoops from the sky, bites us in the neck and sucks our blood.

After such an encounter, the victim becomes a vampire who then roams the earth satisfying its own blood lust.  It has even been suggested that they have supernatural powers allowing them to change shapes from bat to man.

And don't forget, a vampire gets to sleep in a coffin.  Although, I would rather hang from the ceiling.


The Mystery ~ Believe It or Not


Bloodletting has traditionally held healing qualities.  It has been reported that a Mexican monk, who came down with a violent fever, was given a death sentence by morning.  However, during the night his feet were left uncovered and a vampire bat entered the room.  The little bat bit the mans toe and lapped his blood.  When the sun rose, his fever was actually reduced and the sick man recovered.


The Medicinal


Scientists have discovered that vampire bat saliva is better at keeping blood from clotting than any known medicine.  Research on the anticoagulant agents in vampire bat saliva may improve medical treatment of some human injuries and diseases.

In addition to the medicinal benefit, the Guano can be harvested and used as a fertilizer.


Meals


Close-up View of Huddled Vampire Bats in a Tree Trunk
Close-up View of...
Peter Carsten
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Vampire bats strike their victims from the ground.  They land near their prey and approach it on all fours.

Birds, sleeping cattle or horses are their usual victims, but they have been known to occasionally bite humans.  After putting the bite on an animal, the vampire bat laps up the flowing blood with its grooved tongue, which helps move blood rapidly to its mouth.

The bats are so light and agile that they can drink their sleeping victim's blood for about 30 minutes without waking it up.  They don't remove enough blood to harm their host.  They only need about 2 tablespoons per day.


Mercy for the Vampire Bat


 Vampire Bats! Learn About Vampire Bats and Enjoy Colorful Pictures - Look and Learn! (50+ Photos of Vampire Bats)Check PriceI can't help but wonder why we are so hard on these little creatures.  They only lick a little blood, they don't kill.

We adore bears, lions, cougars and tigers, yet they all kill to eat.   We even name our athletic teams and school mascots after them.  Why do we ignore the fact that many wild animals kill to eat, but we detest a small animal who exists by merely drinking blood?   When you really think about it, Vampire Bats are a lot more merciful.

Yes, they can carry rabies and we do need to exterminate those carriers.  But we need to remember that they are victims too.  They didn't just wake up one night and say "I want a killing disease that I can spread around." 

Other common carriers of rabies include foxes, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, bobcats and wolves.  In fact, all mammals can catch and carry rabies.

We vaccinate our pets so they will not get rabies, why not focus on efforts to protect the little bat colonies so they do not have to suffer with that disease?   Wow, if we focused on eliminating rabies, the disease, instead of eliminating little animals because they are commonly victims of the disease, wouldn't we all be better off?

 Lets have a little mercy for the merciful!


3 comments:

  1. I haven't seen statistics but in this area, I think the feral cats are one of the highest diseased animal. So, I agree with you. I'm not sure why "we" tend to pick and choose which beasts to adore and which to love. I kind of like bats. Of course, I'm talking about outdoors. Put a bat indoors with me and my tune quickly changes.

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  2. Well, you have given me a new way to look at a creature I never much cared for before. Now I'll view Vampire Bats differently (as long as they don't come too close to me...lol). Very interesting story about these little critters we share our world with.

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  3. Wonderful information for the Vampire Bats. They are so misunderstood and deserve to have people like you telling the truth about them. These are part of the natural world and one that we should appreciate along with all other creatures.

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