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Common Vampire Bat


The Common Vampire Bat (Desmodus rotundus) is a species of vampire bat. They have burnt amber colored fur on their backside while soft and velvety light brown fur covers their belly. They have large pointy ears and a flat leaf-shaped nose. Their babies use tiny thumbs in the middle of the wing to cling on the mothers furry belly. Vampire bats are about 9 cm (3.5 in) long and have a wingspan of 18 cm (7 in). They commonly weigh about 57 grams (2 oz), but that can double after just one feeding.

Feeding

Vampire bats feed on the blood of large birds, cattle, horses, pigs, dogs and many other animals including humans. However, they dont suck the blood directly from their prey, they let it flow from the wound first before lapping it up.

The Common Vampire is a highly evolved bat. The front teeth, lips and tongue are highly specialized, with the former used to trim the surrounding fur of the host, acting like scissors. Then a piece of skin is removed by the razor-sharp V-shaped front teeth, much like using a spoon to scoop ice cream out of a cup. During this process the animal's saliva, which contains an anticoagulant, is released and the resulting wound bleeds freely, enabling the vampire to feed using grooves in its lower lip and under its tongue. The grooves form a straw-like structure enabling the bat to suck the blood rather than lapping it.

Behavior

The vampire bat is one of the few known bats capable of walking, jumping and hopping. This is accomplished by folding its wings in such a fashion that the animal literally walks on its thumbs.A.M. Greenhall and U. Schmidt, editors. 1988. Natural History of Vampire Bats, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. ISBN 0849367506; ISBN 978-0849367502, pp. 72-79. This behavior is important because it permits the bat to stealthily maneuver on the ground and host. Vampires climb to get to places on the host, such as shoulders, underside of the tail and teats and soft tissue near the hoof to get to the unique spot. Often they will return night after night to the same animal (particularly tethered farm animals), so they just have to lift the scab from previous visits to get more blood. It is speculated that before the introduction of domesticated animals, vampires fed upon a wide variety of animals including opossums, armadillos, raccoons, snakes, birds, monkeys, and so forth.A.M. Greenhall and U. Schmidt, editors. 1988. Natural History of Vampire Bats, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. ISBN 0849367506; ISBN 978-0849367502, pp. 114ff.

References

Greenhall, Arthur M. 1961. Bats in Agriculture. A Ministry of Agriculture Publication. Trinidad and Tobago.

Greenhall, Arthur M. 1965. The Feeding Habits of Trinidad Vampire Bats.

Greenhall, A., G. Joermann, U. Schmidt, M. Seidel. 1983. Mammalian Species: Desmodus rotundus. American Society of Mammalogists, 202: 1-6.

A.M. Greenhall and U. Schmidt, editors. 1988. Natural History of Vampire Bats, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. ISBN 0849367506; ISBN 978-0849367502

Riskin, Daniel K. and John W. Hermanson. 2005. Biomechanics: Independent evolution of running in vampire bats. Nature 434: 292-292. Abstract, video.

Kishida R, Goris RC, Terashima S, Dubbeldam JL. (1984) A suspected infrared-recipient nucleus in the brainstem of the vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus. Brain Res. 322:351-5.

Campbell A, Naik RR, Sowards L, Stone MO. (2002) Biological infrared imaging and sensing. Micron 33:211-225. pdf.

External links

ARKive - images and movies of the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus)

National Geographic site with photos and other media. [*]

Biogeography of the Vampire Bat. [*]

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Common Vampire Bat


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