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Animal of the Week: Vampire bats

By Maddie Kotch, Contributor

Jeepers creepers! Is it Halloween season already?! Have you seen black cats, rats and spiders? I bet you have, but have you seen vampire bats? Unless you have traveled recently, then I bet you have yet to see this species of bats.

Vampire bats are found in Central and South America and live in places where very little light is available, like in caves or mines. When thinking about vampire bats, we usually associate them with sucking blood. But, contradictory to popular belief, vampire bats are not as similar to Dracula as we assume. Although they still live off of blood, vampire bats use their tongue as a mechanism for drinking blood. In the same light, people also think the blood these bats drink comes from humans, but that is also a myth, right?

Right! A vampire bat does not live off of human blood, and most of the time they will not drink human blood. The main blood supply they live off of comes from livestock. If it is hard to find prey, vampire bats can go up to two days without drinking blood.

When it comes to searching for their prey, vampire bats are unique in how they can find it. Two methods that they use are centered on their hearing abilities, and they include echolocation and focusing on the prey’s breathing patterns. Another popular belief is that vampire bats are big, but are they? Actually, vampire bats are relatively small with them being 3.5 inches long – about the size of our pinky finger — so, there’s no need to fear these tiny little guys.

Vampire bats are not as spine-chilling as they seem to be! Their saliva also serves a good purpose to us by allowing a drug to be developed which helps prevent blood clotting called Draculin. (Get it?) Next time you are on an adventure and encounter a vampire bat, instead of being scared, take the experience in and remember to celebrate how much you already know about vampire bats!

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