Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The real vampire from the Amazon



Bats are the only mammals that can fly, but vampire bats have an even more interesting distinction—they are the only mammals that feed entirely on blood.

Vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) are bats that feed on blood and this particular habit in certain animals is known as 'hematophagy'.

There are only three bat species that actually feed 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 Rainforests of America, ranging from Mexico to Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.

Vampire bats very rarely bite people because they apparently dislike human blood.

The three species of Bats are quite different from each other and are therefore placed within different genera (no other species are currently classified in any of the three genera concerned).

But they are related.


What does a real Vampire look like

Vampire bats have burnt amber colored fur on their backside while soft and velvety light brown fur that covers their belly.

Vampire bats have a wingspan of about 8 inches and a body about the size of an adults thumb.

Vampire bats have small ears and a short tail membrane.

Their front teeth are specialized for cutting and their back teeth are much smaller than in other bats.



How do the vampires feed

Their digestive systems are also specialized for their liquid diet.

The saliva of vampire bats contains the substance, 'draculin', which prevents the victim’s blood from clotting.

Vampire bats therefore, lap blood rather than suck it as most people imagine.

Vampire Bats only come out to feed when it is fully dark.

These notorious bats sleep during the day in total darkness, suspended upside down from the roofs of caves.

They typically gather in colonies of about 100 animals, but sometimes live in groups of 1,000 or more. In one year, a 100-bat colony can drink the blood of 25 cows.

In Ecuador they are considered a pest because of their tendency to drink blood from the cows and pester the animals.

The wound left by a vampire bat atracts insects and can cause a nasty infection to the cow.



How a vampire finds its prey

Like fruit-eating bats and unlike insectivorous and fish-eating bats, they only emit low-energy sound pulses.

The Common Vampire Bat feeds mostly on the blood of mammals, whereas the Hairy-legged Vampire Bat, and the White-winged Vampire Bat feed on the blood of birds.

Using their sharp teeth, the bats make tiny cuts in the skin of a sleeping animal.

The bats' saliva contains a chemical that keeps the blood from clotting.

The bats then lap up the blood that oozes from the wound.

Another chemical in their saliva numbs the animal's skin and keeps them from waking up.

During the darkest part of the night, common vampire bats emerge to hunt.

Sleeping cattle and horses are their usual victims, but they have been known to feed on people as well.

The bats drink their victim's blood for about 30 minutes.

They don't remove enough blood to harm their host, but their bites can cause nasty infections and disease, like rabies.
A vampire bat finds its prey with echolocation (use of ultra-high frequency sounds for navigation), smell, and sound. 

They strike their victims from the ground landing near their prey and approach it on all fours.

The bats have few teeth because of their liquid diet, but those they have are razor sharp.

Each bat has a heat sensor on its nose that points it toward a spot where warm blood is flowing just beneath its victim's skin.

After putting the bite on an animal, the vampire bat laps up the flowing blood with its tongue. Its saliva prevents the blood from clotting.

When the bats have finished their meal, they are often so engorged with blood that they are too heavy to fly, so they have to retire in a place away from the victims to digest their meal before taking flight.


And the little ones

Young vampire bats feed not on blood but on milk.

They cling tightly to their mothers, even in flight, and consume nothing but her milk for about three months.
Interesting fact: The Aztecs called the vampire bats "mouse butterflies", not very scary.

28 comments:

  1. I don't find this scary, in a weird way I think it's actually kind of cute looking.

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  2. I never knew that baby bats drank their mama's milk. Crazy. I like bats but in a distance. We use to have little bats in our bushes in Florida. Didn't know until I bumped into it and about 20 flew out. Well, yes, I ran. lol

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    Replies
    1. I would have ran too, lol. And yes, bats are mammals, even though they don't seem like the rest of the mammals we're used to.

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  3. I actually love bats! I used to have a little one that couldn't fly but I ended up putting him back where I found him cause I was told he could climb back up to where he came from. I don't know whatever happened to him, but he was neat.

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    Replies
    1. Bats are beautiful animals, in their own way, Marie. And very useful to us. I don't think I would have one as a pet though :)

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  4. Sounds like a true to life vampire. I have seen bat but it was a small size one and eats insect. Amazon one looks big and creepy. I don't want to be bitten because they can give me rabies.

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  5. I'm not so fond of bats. I am actually spooked by them. I remember seeing so many of them in my elementary school near the chapel and how we heard so much "weird" stories about how they turn into vampires during the night. Well, as I got older, I knew those stories weren't true. We were told such so we kids didn't mess up the chapel grounds. :)

    ReplyDelete
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