What Do Vampire Bats Eat?

Author: Gabrielle Marks
Vampire bats eat blood.

More Info: Native to Central America, Mexico, and South America, vampire bats subsist solely on blood as a food source.

How Do Vampire Bats Feed?

Vampire bats generally prey on livestock such as cattle and horses, but have been known to prey on wild animals and even humans.  The vampire bat has a heat sensitive nose to detect its blood meal and will approach its prey from the ground.  It will then seek a spot on the animal that is least hair covered and will use its razor sharp incisors used to create a puncture wound in the animal's skin to draw blood.  The bat will then lap the blood as it emerges from the wound. It has a special anti-coagulant in its saliva to inhibit its prey's blood from clotting.

 Surprisingly, the bat's bite usually goes undetected allowing the bat to continue to feed undisturbed, suggesting that the bite itself is painless.  Unfortunately, though the extraction of blood is not dangerous, the secondary infections created by the open wound can be.

Vampire Bats Are Unique

There are nearly 1,000 species of bats all having similar characteristics that make them unique, such as being the only mammal with the ability to fly.  But apart from being the only species of bat to subsist on a diet of blood alone, vampire bats have other qualities that are unique to this species.

  • Vampire bats can also walk, run, and hop-behaviors not innate to some other bat species.

  • The vampire bat will generally come back to feed on the same prey multiple times.

  • If the vampire bat does not eat within a day or two, it will die.

  • Vampire bats have specialized noses equipped with thermoreceptors to locate the areas on its prey where blood flow is closest to the skin. 

Works Cited

Animal Diversity Web
ADW: Desmodus rotundus: Information

Encyclopedia Smithsonian: Bat Facts

National Geographic
Common Vampire Bats

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"What Do Vampire Bats Eat?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <http://www.sophisticatededge.com/what-do-vampire-bats-eat.html>.  

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