- Scientific Name
- Desmodus rotundus
- Global Conservation Status (IUCN)
- Least Concern
Pronunciation: des-moh-dus roh-tun-dus
Fun Fact: Unlike most bats, common vampire bats are actually quite agile on the ground. Using a bounding-type movement, they can run up to 2.5 miles an hour.
Common vampire bats are restricted to warm climates, and live in tropical and subtropical areas ranging from southern Mexico to northern parts of Argentina and Chile. Living in colonies ranging from tens to thousands of individuals, common vampire bats roost in tree hollows and moderately lit caves as well as human-made structures such as old wells, mine shafts, and abandoned buildings.
One of only three species of bats to feed on blood, common vampire bats feed primarily on mammal blood ranging from large wild mammals such as tapirs to common livestock such as cows, horses, and pigs. common vampire bats have unique characteristics due to their specialized feeding habits. Their front teeth (incisors) are sharp and pointed, and are used to make small cuts in their prey. They don’t actually suck the blood from their prey, but instead lap the blood from the wound while special proteins in their saliva prevent the wound from clotting. The discovery of a potent anticoagulant in the saliva of vampire bats has been developed into a medication that helps prevent strokes in humans.
Common vampire bats are highly social and have sophisticated social organization and behaviors. Female bats form close associations with other females, observed through activities such as social grooming and sharing food. How often these bats share their food depends on a variety of factors including kinship, association, and reciprocal help.