Vampire bats are fascinating creatures that have aided in expanding the myth of the vampire. After all, they truly are blood-sucking bats, which means that they have the potential to drain a victim dry. These nocturnal winged hunters seek out mammals or birds to satiate their need to feed. In other words, any warm-blooded animal is at risk, including humans.
Fortunately, these bats don't have the power to hypnotize people with their eyes like their mythological cousins - at least, not that anyone has reported. Despite their small size and lack of glammering abilities, they have piercing fangs and fierce hunting instincts that rival any vampire, werewolf, or other powerful predator. This enables them to take down their prey and get a good meal during the dead of the night.
Read on to discover all the things about vampire bats that will have you sleeping with your window closed starting tonight.
They Recently Added Humans To Their Menu
The idea of a bat that exists solely on blood is terrifying enough, but the stakes have recently risen much higher. Researchers in Brazil discovered that the hairy-legged vampire bat, which typically dines on the blood of birds, is now ordering human blood for dinner. Human DNA was found in the feces of three vampire bats.
This sudden change of appetite may be due to bats adapting to an environment that is changing quickly due to deforestation. Their typical prey is starting to die out, which leaves them struggling to get enough food. Scientists point out that many people in the area make themselves easy prey by either leaving their windows open or sleeping outside.
A Large Colony Can Drain 250 Cows Per Year...And Approximately 1,900 Humans
Vampire bats live in colonies that contain anywhere from 100 to 1,000 members. Colonies with only 100 bats can drink the entire blood supply of 25 cows per year, but this number can reach as many as 250 with a large enough group. To put this into perspective, the average cow contains 39 liters of blood and humans have 5 liters.
Looking at the numbers, that means a colony of 1,000 could consume 39 liters in only 1.5 days. With humans as their prey instead, that same colony would kill approximately eight people in 36 hours. Those of you following along with the math know that means a large colony has the potential to drain close to 1,900 humans annually. If vampire bats ever get desperate enough to turn to us as their primary food source, they could be a serious threat to our survival.
Their Teeth Are So Sharp They Need To Be Handled With Caution
Sharp teeth are a vampire bat's defining characteristic, but surprisingly, they don't actually have a lot of teeth in their mouth, and the ones in the back are extremely dull. They make up for this with razor sharp fangs in the front. This allows them to bite through the flesh of their prey. As a result, it can be dangerous to interact with vampire bats, even after they're dead. If faced with handling the skull of a deceased vampire bat, be careful not to touch the teeth!
They Can Infect Humans With Rabies
It's rare, but vampire bats can infect humans with rabies. In Brazil, vampire bats have started feeding off of humans, and this has led to some serious issues. One person died due to contracting rabies from a vampire bat and at least 40 more are being treated for the disease. Researchers concluded that Brazil typically faces an average of only 1.54 rabies cases per year that originate from a vampire bat. Unfortunately, if the increase in attacking humans continues, the number of rabies cases could rise dramatically.