Watch out for a vampire -- bat, that is. While the blood-drinking bats won't leave you drained, you can catch rabies from a bat bite. Vampire bats lick blood off of the bites they make; they don't suck the blood from a bite like a vampire in a fictional story would. Also, the vampire bat can bite anywhere on the body -- not just the neck. All the same, vampire bats rarely drink blood from humans, unless they are very hungry and can't find a source of blood for their meal anywhere else.
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Vampire Bats are Nocturnal
Maybe you have to listen to your mom and dad and go to bed at bedtime, but vampire bats get to stay up all night. These creatures are nocturnal. Nocturnal means they are active during the nighttime. Because they are up and about all night, they spend most of the day sleeping.
Vampire Bats Really Drink Blood
There's a very good reason why these bats are called vampires: They really do drink blood. Unlike the vampires in movies and books, though, vampire bats rarely attack people to drink blood from their necks. Vampire bats mostly drink blood from animals like pigs, cows and horses. The animals are not in pain when vampire bats drink their blood.
Free Meal for Grooming
Blood is the only kind of food that vampire bats eat. They rely on blood for survival. If they do not drink any blood for two days, they will die. Sometimes a female vampire bat will bring up some of the blood she drank to share with a hungry bat. The only thing she expects in return is for the bat to groom her.
Bird Blood Tastes Better
There are three species of vampire bats. However, even as one species will drink blood from any animal, or even a human, the other two species of the vampire bat, Diaemus youngi and Diphylla ecaudata, prefer to drink the blood of birds. These are the only animals these two species of vampire bats drink blood from.
Vampire Bats Use Echolocation
Like many other kinds of bats and mammals, vampire bats use echolocation to find their food. Echolocation is when the bat will make a series of very loud sounds and listen for the echo. When the sound waves of the echo come back to the bat, the bat will be able to figure out the size of something that is near them, how far away it is, where to find it and what shape the object is.
Vampire Bats are Not Blind
A common myth about bats is that they are blind. Some people even say, "I'm blind as a bat." But this is not true. Bats do rely on sound and echolocation to find their food, but their eyes definitely work. Like many animals, bats are born blind, but their vision gets better as they get older.
Vampire Bats are Native to Central and South America
Vampire bats are native to Central and South America. This means this is where they usually live. They are rare in most parts of the United States. If a vampire bat is found in somewhere like New York City, it was probably brought there by a traveller or a scientist.
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- Natiional Geographic Kids: Vampire Bats
- Contra Costa County Office of Education: Echolocation
- "Scientific American"; How Do Bats Echolocate and How Are They Adapted to this Activity?; Dec. 21, 1998
- Bats Northwest: Basic Bat FAQs
- Big Site of Amazing Facts: Are Bats Really Blind?
- Animal Planet: Top 10 Animal Myths - Are Bats Really Blind?