When we think of bats the first thing that comes to our mind is an image from Hollywood’s monsters. But the real vampires are a lot different and have nothing to do with Dracula. Vampire Bats live in a range that covers Mexico, Central America and part of South America. In Guatemala it is commonly found in the tropics. Here are some revealing facts about them:
1. These are the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. Also they are the only mammals that feed entirely on blood.
Find the best spots to see bats in Guatemala.
2. Vampire bats feed on the blood of large birds, cattle, horses, pigs, dogs and many other animals including humans. However, they don’t suck the blood directly from their “victims”. They let it flow from the wound first before lapping it up.
3. In the wild they live about 9 years and nearly 20 in captivity.
4. 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 way that the animal literally walks on its thumbs. This behavior is important because itÂ allows the bat to maneuver on the ground and to climb on their host.
5. Often they will return night after night to the same animal, so they just have to lift the scab from previous visits to get more blood.
6. These nocturnal mammals don’t remove enough blood to harm their host, but their bites can cause nasty infections and diseases.
7. To control the vampire bats, cattle have been injected with anticoagulants, substances which cause internal bleeding in the feeding bats.