Vampire Bat

Order

Chiroptera

Family

Desmodontidae

Genus

Desmodus

Species

rotundus

Range

Central and South America. From Mexico south to Chile and Argentina. Appearance: Body Length 2 3/4". Wingspan 8". Weight 1 ounce. A very ordinary-looking bat.

Habitat

Roost in hollows, caves, trees and buildings. Live in colonies of up to 2000 animals. Usually 100 bats per colony.

Diet

Each bat requires about two tablespoons of blood every day. Vampire bats are very agile on the ground. They usually approach the prey from the ground. Heat sensors on the nose helps them locate a vein close to the skin. The incisor teeth make a quick cut. There is an ingredient in the bat's saliva that prevents clotting. It may take 20 minutes to complete its meal. There is also an anesthetic in the saliva that reduces the likelihood of its victim being irritated by the initial bite.

Reproduction

They may mate all year. Gestation is 6-8 months and they usually have 1 offspring.

General

These bats live in a very structured society. They work at building strong social bonds with other bats in the colony. They groom each other and learn to recognize one another through voices and smell. This is important because there are frequently nights in which a bat is unsuccessful at feeding. If this occurs, it can "beg" food from another bat with which it has developed strong bonds. The giving of blood appears to be reciprocal, and if a bat is not reciprocating, the others will not tolerate it. Like other bats, vampires live long lives and may reach 20 years of age.

Status

Not endangered.

The Birmingham Zoo is operated by Birmingham Zoo Inc.
This website is maintained by The Birmingham Zoo, Live On the Net , Huntsville, Alabama USA
© Copyright 2000 All Rights reserved.