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.
- 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