Common Vampire Bat

Common Vampire Bat



COMMON NAME: common vampire bat, vampire bat
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Chiroptera (hand wing)
FAMILY: Phyllostomidae
SUBFAMILY: Desmodontidae (a bundle)
GENUS SPECIES: Desmodus (bundle tooth) rotundus (round)


DESCRIPTION: Pointed ears; longer thumb (in comparison to other true vampire bats); 20 teeth, with largest being 2 upper canines and 2 upper incisors
SIZE: Wingspan = 32-35 cm (12-13 in.)
WEIGHT: 30-35 g (1-1.2 oz.)
DIET: Blood of vertebrates ( i.e. - cows, pigs, and horses)
GESTATION: 200 days
LIFE SPAN: 9 years in the wild, up to 20 years in captivity
RANGE: Northern Mexico to northern Argentina
HABITAT: Deserts to rain forests
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed


1. Vampire bats have fewer teeth than any other bat because they do not have to chew their food.
2. Along with flying, vampire bats can run, jump, and hop with great speed, using their chest muscles to fling themselves skyward.
3. Vampire bats in the same colony support their roostmates by regurgitating blood to bats that are unable to find food.
4. Vampire bats don't suck blood. They make a small incision and lap up the blood of their hosts.


Scientists recently discovered that the anticoagulant in vampire bat saliva is twenty times stronger than any other known anti-clotting agent. With more research we may find this substance can help with serious human disorders like heart attacks and strokes. They are also food for night time predators like owls. Vampire bats are considered agricultural pests in Latin America where cattle raising is taking precedence over the rain forests. Control programs have been initiated in these areas. However, millions of beneficial fruit-and insect-eating bats are also destroyed because people mistake them for vampire bats.


Belwood, Jaqueline J., and Patricia A Morton. "Vampires - The Real Story." Bats. Vol. 9, No. 1. Spring 1991, pp. 11-16.

Fenton, Brock. Bats. New York: Facts on File, 1992.

Gotch, A. F. Mammals - Their Latin Names Explained - A Guide To Animal Classification. Poole, United Kingdom: Blanford Press, 1979.

Hill, John E., and James D. Smith. Bats- A Natural History. Austin, Texas: University of Texas press, 1984.

Parker, Sybil P. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol. II, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990.

Rexford, Lord. "A Taste for Blood." Wildlife Conservation. Sep. - Oct. 1993, pp. 34-37.