Vampire Bat Introduction
Vampire Bats are bats whose food source is blood, a dietary trait called hematophagy. Three extant bat species feed solely on blood: The common Vampire Bat (Desmodus rotundus), the hairy-legged vampire bat (Diphylla ecaudata), and the White-Winged Vampire Bat (Diaemus youngi). All three species are native to the Americas, ranging from Mexico to Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. Over time, Vampire Bats have perfectly adapted to the consumption of their only food source, with a leaf-like heat sensor on the end of their nose which detects where the warm blood is flowing closest to the skin. The Vampire Bat is quite a small animal, with its body rarely growing larger than the size of a human thumb. Its wings are long, finger-like bones that are covered in a thin layer of skin, with a thumb claw that pokes out of the front and is used for grip when clambering about on their host. Vampire Bats have dark brown to grey furry bodies with a lighter underside, and strong limbs which enable them to crawl about on the ground with ease. As with other Bats, Vampire Bats use echolocation in order to determine their surroundings. When flying, they produce high-pitched sounds that bounce of the objects in the area, and it is this bounced-back sound that allows the Bat to figure out where things are around them. (it is so high-pitched that it cannot be heard by people) The Vampire Bat is found throughout the South American continent from Mexico to the tip of Argentina. Vampire Bats are found in both tropical and subtropical regions and can adapt to living in both humid and dry climates. Many Bats are nocturnal, and the Vampire Bat is no exception, spending the daylight hours roosting in hollow trees, caves, mines and even derelict buildings in colonies that can be more than 1,000 strong. Although other bat species are known to nest in the same places as the Vampire Bats, it is thought that the separate species tend to keep their distance from one another to avoid conflict.
Keywords to learn
Hematophagy: Hematophagy (sometimes spelled hematophagy or hematophagia) is the practice by certain animals of feeding on blood. Metabolism: The chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.
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Key Vampire Bat Data
- Lifespan:8-12 years.
- Scientific Name:Desmodontinae.
- Mass:19g – 57g (0.7oz – 2oz).
- Length:7cm – 9.5cm (2.75in – 3.75in).
- Region found:Central and South America.
- Population Status:Least Concern.
- Current population trend:Stable.
- Sexual maturity:9 – 10 months.
Vampire bats are scary. In fact, all bats are scary. Bats are basically rats with wings and can spread deadly diseases. Bats live in caves and huddle together, so make sure to be careful when in caves. Now that you know more about the Vampire Bat by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download questions about the Vampire Bat here: Vampire Bat (answers are on this page)
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Vampire Bat Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. The Vampire Bat is the only mammal that survives feeding entirely on blood.
- # 2. Using it’s set of sharp front teeth, the Vampire Bat then bites its host, immediately jumping back in case the animal wakes up. Contrary to popular belief, Vampire Bats do not suck the blood of their victims, but inside lap it up using their grooved tongue as it flows out of the wound. Chemicals in the Vampire Bat’s saliva both stop the blood from clotting and numb the area of skin around the bite to prevent the host from feeling anything.
- # 3. Despite being a unique and versatile predator itself, the Vampire Bat is still prey to other animals, that can hunt the bat in the air when it comes out to hunt at night. Large, sharp-eyed Birds of Prey such as hawks and eagles are the most common predators of the Vampire Bat, along with snakes that hunt the bats in their dark caverns while they are sleeping during the day. Humans though are one of their biggest threats, mainly farmers that are known to poison the bats that commonly feed on their livestock. These poisons (known as vampiricides) are specially designed to spread throughout the entire colony through social grooming, killing hundreds of individuals at a time.
- # 4. Vampire Bats feed exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals, drinking up to a teaspoon (25ml) of blood per 30-minute feed. Once having feasted on their host however, the bats are then so bloated that they can barely fly with their weight almost having doubled. It is said that in just one year, an average sized Vampire Bat colony can drink the blood of 25 Cows, but their metabolism is so fast that they must feed every two days to ensure their survival. (blood is very nutritious containing high amounts of water)
- # 5. The Vampire Bat is one of the only bat species that is considered a pest by humans. Farmers particularly have a very strained relationship with these flying mammals, that feed on their sleeping cows under the cover of night. Even though the amount of blood consumed by the bat is minimal and does not harm the animal, it is the bite itself that can cause problems becoming infected or diseased.
- # 1. What is the only food source of the Vampire Bat?
- # 2. How many species of Vampire Bats are there?
- # 3. What is the diet of the Vampire Bat called?
- # 4. What does the Vampire Bats saliva do to help it feed?
- # 5. Why is the Vampire Bat considered a pest to humans?