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Vampire Bat image
Vampire Bat

Vampire Bat

(Mammal)

Vampire Bat Baby
Vampire Bat Baby

Vampire Bat Habits

Vampire bats are active only during the darkest periods of the night. It is the time when they are most likely to avoid being caught by such nocturnal predators as owls. Also, the domestic animals on which the bats feed are often sleeping, and so are easier to approach undetected.
During the day, vampire bats roost in colonies, hanging upside down in caves and hollow trees. They will sometimes move from one daytime roost to another which is closer to their prey. This kind of activity indicates that vampire bats learn from experience where their prey can be found.
The vampire bat can transmit rabies to livestock and man. To control the vampire bats, cattle have been injected with anticoagulants, substances which cause internal bleeding in the feeding bats. Anticoagulants have also been smeared on the bats themselves. When they return to their roost site, other bats in the colony groom them and ingest the fatal drug.

Vampire Bat Communication

To help them find their prey in the dark, most bat species have developed a remarkable navigation system called echolocation. To understand how echolocation works, imagine an "echo canyon." If you stand on the edge of a canyon and shout "hello," you'll hear your own voice coming back to you an instant later.
The process that makes this happen is pretty simple. You produce sound by rushing air from your lungs past your vibrating vocal chords. These vibrations caused fluctuations in the rushing air, which formed a sound wave. A sound wave is just a moving pattern of fluctuations in air pressure. The changing air pressure pushes surrounding air particles out and then pulls them back in. These particles then push and pull the particles next to them, passing on the energy and pattern of the sound. In this way, sound can travel long distances through the air. The pitch and tone of the sound are determined by the frequency of the air-pressure fluctuations, which is determined by the way you move your vocal chords.
When you shout, you produce a sound wave that travels across the canyon. The rock face on the opposite side of the canyon deflects the air-pressure energy of the sound wave so that it begins moving in the opposite direction, heading back to you. In an area where atmospheric air pressure and air composition is constant, sound waves always move at the same speed. If you knew the speed of sound in the area, and you had a very precise stopwatch, you could use sound to determine the distance across the canyon.
Vampire bats are blind so they need to detect movement using their ears, and this is why they use echolocation.

Vampire Bat Breeding

The vampire bat's ability to reproduce is limited by its need to remain light enough to fly. It gives birth to a single offspring after a gestation period of 6-8 months. Vampire bats mate year-round. Mating takes place while roosting upside down in the security of a cave. A single young is then born some 6-8 months later.
Born blind, the young bat is carried by its mother for the first few days of its life, Its eyes open after a week, and it takes its first flight when it is 3 weeks old. It is sexually mature at 9 months and breeds at any time of the year.

Vampire Bat Food & Feeding

The vampire bat feeds on the blood of animals. Cows, pigs, and horses are its favorite hosts. The bat will usually choose the most docile or isolated animal in the herd on which to feed. Using its chisel like incisor teeth, the bat makes a small cut in the animal's skin. It usually chooses a fleshy area, like the shoulder or neck, where the blood vessels are closer to the skin's surface. The bat then drinks the blood that flows from the wound. Chemicals in the bat's saliva keep the blood flowing for the 2-3 minutes that the bat feeds. Often two or three bats will feed from the same wound. In most instances, the host animal suffers no ill effects from the loss of blood, although if too many bats feed on the same animal, it may be severely weakened.

Vampire Bat Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Body, 2 3/4 inches: Wing span, 8 inches
              Weight: 1 ounce
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: 9 months
             Mating: All year
             Gestation: 6-8 months
             Number of young: 1
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Nocturnal. Lives in colonies from 6 to 2,000, but which usually number 100
            Diet: Blood of domestic animals, particularly cows, pigs, and horses
            Lifespan: 9 years in wild; nearly 20 years in captivity

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Vampire bats once preyed on wild animals, but now feed mainly on domestic animals.
  • Vampire bats have been known to feed on humans in their sleep.
  • In a year, a colony of 100 vampire bats consume a quantity of blood equivalent to the amount in 25 cows.
  • They are some of only bats that can walk, and run at speeds of about 5 miles per hour.
  • Vampire Bats roost in hollow trees and caves.

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