Common Vampire Bat (Desmodus rotundus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Chiroptera
Family:    Desmodontidae
Size:    Length: 2.75 to 3 inches (6.9 to 7.6 cm) Wingspan: 8 to 15 inches (20 to 38 cm)
Weight: Up to 1.8 ounces (51 grams)
Diet: Mammal blood
Distribution: Mexico, Central America, South America
Young:  Usually 1, sometimes 2
Animal Predators:  Owls, eagles and hawks
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Pup  Group: Colony
Lifespan: Average lifespan 9 to 12 years and up to 20 years in captivity



       Vampire bats fly low over the ground, usually at about three feet (91 cm).

       Vampire bats are the only bats that can walk, hop and jump on the ground. 

       The bat is a symbol of longevity and happiness in traditional Chinese and Persian stories and legends.

       Vampire bats have fewer teeth than any other bat because they donít need to chew their food.

       Female vampire bats are usually larger than the males.

       There are only three species of vampire (blood-eating) bats and they all live in Latin America.


Common vampire bats have greyish-brown fur above, and lighter coloured fur on their undersides. They have pointy ears and a flattened snout.  



Common vampire bats are found in warm climates, from Mexico through Central America to northern Argentina, as well as on the islands of Margarita and Trinidad, just off the coast of northern Venezuela.. They can survive from the arid atmosphere of the desert to humid areas such as rainforests. 


Feeding Habits

Common vampire bats prefer the blood of cows, horses and pigs, attacking while the victim sleeps. Vampire bats sometimes attack humans, but will do so only if desperate, because they do not like the taste of human blood as much as that of livestock. They do not land on the animal, but on the ground close to it. The bat then walks up to it and climbs on the animal, locates a section where the blood is flowing close to the skinís surface with the heat sensors located on its nose, shears the hair in that spot, punctures the skin and laps up approximately two tablespoons of blood. Vampire bats are considered serious pests to farmers, because they can spread rabies or other diseases to the animal they have bitten, and the wounds they leave behind provide wonderful locations for screwworm flies to lay their eggs. The bite itself is minor, and animals usually do not wake up during the feeding. When bats have had their fill, they wait until they have digested a good portion of their food, then they jump into the air and take off flying. 



There is no set mating period for the vampire bat. Following mating, the female undergoes a six to eight month pregnancy, resulting in the birth of a single baby. The baby nurses for the first month, then is fed on regurgitated blood from the mother, until it begins to go on hunts when it is about four months old. The vampire bat can fend for itself by the time it reaches five months of age. 



Vampire bats live in colonies of up to 2,000 bats in a cave, abandoned building, or mine. They sleep during the day and at night, fly off to find an animal to feed on. When a bat within a colony does not get its fill of blood within a night, the other bats regurgitate some of their meal to share with it. If a bat does not eat for two days it will die of starvation. 



Vampire bats are not of conservation concern. Their numbers increased when domestic livestock were introduced to South America.




Vampire Bat Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US