10 Incredible Vampire Bat Facts

Bat Teeth - Vampire Bat
© belizar/Shutterstock.com

Written by Volia Schubiger

Updated: September 1, 2023

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Vampire bats, as their name suggests, are leaf-nosed bats that consume blood for food. In Central and South America, you will find these bats in caves, abandoned buildings, and trees. Three of the bat species that are solely dependent on blood as a source of nutrition are the common vampire bat, the white-winged vampire bat, and the hairy-legged vampire bat. These bats are the only mammals that drink blood to survive.

Let’s discover 10 interesting vampire bat facts that will leave you in awe and make you feel a chill run down your spine.

1. Vampire Bats Do Not Suck Blood

Instead of sucking blood like a vampire, vampire bats make a small cut with their teeth, then lap up the flowing blood with their tongues.

©Desmodus / Creative Commons – Original

In contrast to vampires of myth, vampire bats do not drain their victims of blood. In reality, these small creatures use their sharp teeth to make a small cut and let the blood begin to lightly pool up. Afterward, they will then begin to lap it up using their tongue. When it comes to ingesting the blood of their prey, vampire bats are incredibly graceful. The vampire bats make the experience quite painless. When a vampire bat consumes its prey’s blood while sleeping, it usually won’t even wake up! Vampire bats can even consume blood for up to 30 minutes.

2. If Vampire Bats Cannot Find Blood Within 2 Days, They Can Die

Bat Teeth - Vampire Bat


Vampire bats are nocturnal and do all of their hunting during the night. If a vampire bat is struggling to find suitable sources in which to eat, it can pass away within 2 days! Sometimes vampire bats who have eaten a lot will spit out any remaining blood just to let others of their kind eat; now that’s sharing! According to Social grooming in the common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, the blood they collect is often shared with hungry vampire bats, and in return, they expect to be groomed for their services. It is known as social grooming behavior.

3. Vampire Bat Spit Contains Draculin

A vampire bat’s saliva contains Draculin.

©Ltshears / Creative Commons – Original

A vampire bat’s saliva contains Draculin, a type of protein. It is essential to them, as they use it to prevent the blood from their prey from clotting, allowing the blood to continue flowing into the wound they inflict. A fascinating vampire bat fact about this protein is that it is named after Count Dracula.

4. Vampire Bats Can Drink Human Blood

Amazing Rainforest Animal: Australian False Vampire Bat

Ghost bats, also known as “false vampire bats,” are perfectly spooky and perfectly harmless creatures. They are carnivorous, and commonly feed on animals that we consider pests like mice!

©Visanuwit thongon/Shutterstock.com

Don’t worry; even though vampire bats can drink human blood, it’s very rare that they do so. There is a wide variety of prey vampire bats consume. Most commonly, they’ll feast on livestock animals such as pigs, horses, and cows. The reason is the abundance of these animals. In contrast, other vampire bat species, such as the white-winged vampire bat, seem to prefer birds. Don’t worry; if you are bitten by a vampire bat, you won’t be turning into a vampire anytime soon. Most of the time, you won’t even notice, but also remember that these animals can carry rabies, so get checked out immediately.

5. Vampire Bats Use Echolocation

Animals That Can See Infrared

Vampire bats’ echolocation helps them find food in the dark and avoid collisions with each other while flying.

©Michael Lynch/Shutterstock.com

You may not know this amazing vampire bat fact, but vampire bats use a variety of their senses to locate their prey. From using their smell, sounds, and echolocation to come across their next meal. Vampire bats use echolocation by emitting a lot of high-pitched sounds. In this way, the sound echo can be used to determine the location and distance. The vampire bat has infrared receptors in its nose as well. Using this technique, they are able to detect heat and observe where the blood vessels are on their prey. Together, these five senses assist the vampire bat in deciding when and how to eat.

6. Vampire Bats Live In Colonies

Vampire Bat Desmodus rotundus at the Louisville Zoo

©Ltshears / Creative Commons – Original

Vampire bats are social creatures and live in colonies known as roosting sites, which can have a few hundred bats depending on the location. In vampire bat roosting sites, there usually are a few males, a group of females, and their young. It is said that some female vampire bats will even choose to adopt and take care of the young of another female bat that may have passed away. As they share food and groom each other, vampire bats will protect the well-being of each other throughout their roosts.

7. Vampire Bats Can Run

Out of over thousands of species of bats, vampire bats are the only ones who can partake in walking, running, and even jumping. Vampire bats have strong hind legs they use to take off after a feeding, and even a special thumb! While most bats will stumble when placed on the ground, vampire bats are able to go from walking to galloping within seconds of being placed on the ground.

8. Vampire Bats Have Incredible Eyesight

White-winged vampire bat (Diaemus youngi)

©The original uploader was Gcarter2 at English Wikipedia / Gerald Carter 2006, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Vampire bats have extremely good eyesight, which they use to see prey from afar. Their eyesight allows them to tell the difference between a variety of optical patterns and long-range distances. A vampire bat is said to be able to see animals up to 500 feet from them in the dark! A vampire bat has much better eyesight than many other types of bats.

9. Vampire Bats Reproduce Very Slowly

In comparison with other bats, vampire bats reproduce extremely slowly. Female bats tend to have only one pregnancy per year, as their pregnancies last for about 209 days. Once a female vampire bat is ready to give birth, she will fly to the top of wherever she is residing and begin to hang upside down. The female vampire bat only produces one pup, so she creates a pouch in her wing where she catches the baby vampire bat.

10. Vampire Bats Drink Half Their Weight In Blood

Another interesting vampire bat fact is that when vampire bats find a host to feed on, they will continue going until they feel very well fed. They can drink so much blood in one sitting that sometimes they will become so heavy, making it incredibly hard for them to fly. When this happens, a vampire bat will then find a place away from his prey, in which he can wait out and digest before he is able to fly again.

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About the Author

Volia Schubiger is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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