Vampire Bat Feeding

Among all the mammals that wander the earth, save the few human cannibals, there is only one that feeds only on blood. No not vampires but the vampire bat. A mammal found in Southern Mexico and South America that has existed long before the myths of Dracula and vampires.

A special creature, they have their own unique hunting style that does not rely on echo location like most bats for their targets are not insects but rather full size livestock, mammals and birds. Even humans have had been victims of the vampire bat. Fortunately, these attacks are uncommon and only a result of people destroying and moving into the bat’s natural habitat.

To feed, the vampires leave their home at night and travel the skies looking for prey. Upon finding it they swoop down to the ground. Thermal sensors in their flat noses find the the juiciest blood vessels on their target victim. Razor like fangs lacking Enamel painlessly pierce the sleeping victim’s flesh and trigger the blood flow. Even humans bitten by a vampire while sleeping would not notice. The bat saliva used in the bite has enzymes that prevent blood from clotting and thus lets them drink their fill, which can be up to half their body weight. Yet contrary to vampire legend when the bats feed they actually lap up the blood using grooves in their tongue to steer the blood into their bodies. There is no blood sucking involved. After their 20 – 30 minute meal and drinking a couple teaspoons of blood, the bloated bats urinate to lighten their load. A bloated bat cannot fly.

Upon returning home to their roost, the vampires begin grooming each other, which also enables those who failed to feed to receive a regurgitated meal from their kin. Two or three days without food and the poor little bat will die, making this method of interaction vital to a colony’s survival.

All three species of vampire bats have their own unique method for approaching their prey, but they all feed the same way. So the next time you find yourself in South America, keep the windows shut and the mosquito net up lest you fall prey to a vampire bat’s hunger, unlikely though it may be.