What Hollywood Won’t Teach You About Vampire Bats
By: Raquel Zuniga
(photo provided by TheRealBrushguy at www.deviantart.com, photo of his plaster bust that he made inspired by the film Dracula)
Hollywood has ruined vampire bats image by misrepresenting them in films such as Dracula.
(photo found at www.nationalgeographic.com, taken by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark)
Vampire bats aren't as scary as Hollywood portrays them. In fact, vampire bats weigh about 2-4 ounces, depending if they ate recently. Also, vampire bats only live in South America, Central America and Mexico. Another characteristic that Hollywood misrepresents is that vampire bats only feed from livestock, such as cows, pigs, and horses.
One thing that Hollywood got right is that vampire bats are nocturnal; they emerge out of their caves once all the light has disappeared.
Contrary to popular belief, when vampire bats draw blood from their host, the host doesn’t feel any pain. According to National Geographic, “Rather than sucking blood, vampire bats make a small cut with their teeth and then lap up the flowing blood with their tongues. These bats are so light and agile that they are sometimes able to drink blood from an animal for more than 30 minutes without waking it up.”
Vampire bats are the only mammals able eat nothing but blood. They are also the only kind of bat to be able to fly and walk, run, and jump. They have strong hind legs and a special thumb that helps them take off after feeding.
Since vampire bats are mammals, their young drinks milk just like other mammals. Vampire bats don’t start to drink blood until they are about three months old. And as you suspected, mother vampire bats are busy tending to their young and don’t always have time to go hunt. If vampire bats don’t drink blood after two days, they die. It has been observed that other female vampire bats can be generous and will often regurgitate blood to share with new moms for about two weeks after giving birth.
While it is true that there are reports of vampire bats attacking humans, these are rare instances. Scientists say these attacks happen when their regular food supply disappears, often when the livestock as been moved or taken to market. Scientists also blame urbanization and deforestation for destroying these creatures’ homes and bringing them closer to humans.
You may read more about vampire bats method of consumption at http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/17/draculas-children/?_ga=2.162225534.33912380.1518316935-885804758.1511230265
And read more about urbanization and deforestation at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/bats-rabies-deforestation-brazil-urbanisation-diseases-humans-animals-transmission-between-species-a7768666.html