vampire bat

1. any of several New World tropical bats of the genera Desmodus, Diphylla, and Diaemus, the size of a small mouse, feeding on small amounts of blood obtained from resting mammals and birds by means of a shallow cut made with specialized incisor teeth.
2. any of several large South American bats of the genera Phyllostomus and Vampyrus, erroneously believed to feed on blood.
[1780-90]

* * *

Any of three species (family Desmodontidae) of tailless, brown, blood-eating bats native to the New World tropics.

They grow to 2–3.5 in. (6–9 cm) long and weigh 0.5–2 oz (15–50 g). They run swiftly and leap with agility. They live in colonies in caves, hollow trees, and culverts, leaving after dark to forage low on the ground. They feed on quietly resting birds and mammals, including the occasional human, making a small cut with their sharp incisor teeth, often without disturbing the prey, and lapping the blood. The wounds are not serious but may transmit rabies or other diseases.

* * *

mammal
      any of three species of blood-eating bats, native to the New World tropics and subtropics. The common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), together with the white-winged vampire bat (Diaemus, or Desmodus, youngi) and the hairy-legged vampire bat (Diphylla ecaudata) are the only sanguivorous (blood-eating) bats. The common vampire bat thrives in agricultural areas and feeds on livestock such as cattle, pigs, and chickens. The other two vampires are primarily restricted to intact forests, where they feed on birds, reptiles, and other forest animals.

      Common vampire bats are tailless and are considered medium-sized, with a length of 7–9 cm (2.8–3.5 inches). Weight is variable owing to the large volume of blood that the bat ingests. A 57-gram (2-ounce) specimen, for example, can double its weight in one feeding. Its fur is short, ranging in colour from brown to reddish orange; its wings are long and pointed; and the first segments of the thumb are exceptionally long, enabling it to hop and creep in a strangely agile, yet froglike manner along the ground. The common vampire bat is the only bat capable of taking off from the ground, using its long thumbs to leap a metre (three feet) or more into the air before flying off.

      At night, the bats emerge from their roosts in hollow trees or caves. Using sonar (see echolocation) for orientation, they detect the presence of prey with heat sensors located in the face. The bats will usually land near their resting prey and then hop or crawl toward it. Once they have reached their prey (which can include sleeping humans), they make a tiny incision in the skin with their razor-sharp incisor teeth. The incision usually goes unnoticed by the resting animals, and the bats subsequently lick the blood flowing from the tiny wound. A very strong anticoagulant in the saliva of vampire bats keeps the blood from clotting. Although the wounds themselves are usually not serious, infection may result. Vampire bats are considered pests in much of their range, as they frequently transmit rabies to livestock. Humans can also be infected.

      The common vampire bat is noted for its unusual and highly evolved social structure. When an individual bat in a group does not get enough food at night, members of its group share their blood meals. Births are single but, unlike other bats that are usually weaned after four to six weeks, young vampires stay with their mothers for several months until they have learned to feed on their own. Females and their young form stable groups that roost together. Males roost separately, except for dominant males who roost with the females.

      Vampire bats are related to the New World leaf-nosed bats (see family Phyllostomatidae) and are sometimes classified with them as a subfamily (Desmodontinae). The New World false vampire bats (genera Vampyrum and Chrotopterus) are phyllostomatids that are much larger than the sanguivorous bats. Although Vampyrum species are fierce in appearance, their snouts and long canine teeth are used to capture and eat small prey. Various Old World false vampire bats (false vampire bat) are found in Africa, Asia, and Australia.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Vampire bat — Vampire Vam pire, n. [F. vampire (cf. It. vampiro, G. & D. vampir), fr. Servian vampir.] [Written also {vampyre}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A blood sucking ghost; a soul of a dead person superstitiously believed to come from the grave and wander about… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • vampire bat — vampire bats N COUNT A vampire bat is a bat from South America which feeds by sucking the blood of other animals …   English dictionary

  • vampire bat — n a South American ↑bat that sucks the blood of other animals …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • vampire bat — n any of several Central and So. American bats (Desmodus rotundus, Diaemus youngi, and Diphylla ecaudata) that feed on the blood of birds and mammals and esp. domestic animals and that are sometimes vectors of disease and esp. of rabies also any… …   Medical dictionary

  • vampire bat — n. 1. any of a family (Desmodontidae) of tropical American bats that live on vertebrate blood, esp. of stock animals, and sometimes transmit rabies and a trypanosome disease of horses 2. any of various other bats mistakenly believed to feed on… …   English World dictionary

  • Vampire bat — For the 1933 movie, see The Vampire Bat. Vampire bats Common Vampire Bat, Desmodus rotundus Scientific classification Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • vampire bat — noun any of various tropical American bats of the family Desmodontidae that bite mammals and birds to feed on their blood • Syn: ↑true vampire bat • Hypernyms: ↑carnivorous bat, ↑microbat • Hyponyms: ↑Desmodus rotundus, ↑hairy le …   Useful english dictionary

  • vampire bat — paprastasis vampyras statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Desmodus rotundus angl. blood sucking bat; common vampire bat; South American vampire bat; true vampire; vampire; vampire bat vok. echter Vampir;… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

  • vampire bat — noun A small flying mammal (bat) of South America which uses its teeth to nick larger animals while they are asleep, allowing it to surreptitiously lap a blood meal. Syn …   Wiktionary

  • vampire bat — vam′pire bat n. 1) mam any small New World tropical bat of the family Desmodontidae, having specialized front teeth for cutting into the skin and drawing blood from resting animals 2) mam any of several other bats, esp. those of the family… …   From formal English to slang

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.