Bats are the only mammals that can fly, but vampire bats have an even more interesting distinction — they are the only known mammals that survive solely on blood.
Amazing Facts About the Common Vampire Bat
- Vampire bats tend to live in colonies in almost completely dark places, such as caves, old wells, hollow trees, and buildings.
- These creatures are nocturnal and most active in the early night.
- Vampire bats roost alone, in small groups, or in colonies of thousands.
- The basic social structure of roosting bats is made of ‘harems’. These are composed of females and their offspring and a few adult males known as ‘resident males’ and a separate group of males, known as ‘nonresident males’.
- Female vampire bats form associations with one another that can last for many years.
- Vampire bats are believed to be the only species of bats in the world to ‘adopt’ another young bat if something happens to the bat’s mother.
- They are very clean animals that frequently groom themselves as well as other bats.
- Vampire bats generally fly about one metre off the ground.
- Like the legendary monster from which they get their name, these small mammals drink the blood of other animals for survival.
- They feed on blood from sleeping cows, pigs, horses, and birds. Though uncommon, vampire bats occasionally bite humans for blood.
- Vampire bats have such good eyesight that they may be able to see a cow from a distance of 130 metres.
- They don’t remove enough blood to harm the animal, but their bites can cause nasty infections and disease.
- Unlike some other species of bats, vampire bats can walk, run, and jump. They have very strong hind legs and a special thumb that helps them take off after feeding.
- Each night, vampire bats drink about half of their body weight in blood.
- If they can’t find blood for two nights in a row, they will die. Luckily, female bats can be generous; well-fed bats will often regurgitate blood to share with others in exchange for grooming.
- Vampire bats can actually be quite tame, and even friendly to humans.
- Owls, eagles and hawks are some of the vampire bat’s main preadators.
- Rather than sucking blood, vampire bats make a small cut with their teeth and then lap up the flowing blood with their tongues.
- These bats are so light and agile that they are sometimes able to drink blood from an animal for more than 30 minutes without waking it up.
Find more animals like this
- Type: Mammal
- Diet: Carnivore
- Lifespan: Around 9 years
- Size: Body 9cm, wingspan 18cm
- Habitat: Arid to humid, tropical and subtropical areas
- Range: Central to South America