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Common Vampire Bat

Scientific Classification

Common Name
common vampire bat, vampire bat
Chiroptera (hand wing)
Desmodontidae (bundle tooth)
Genus Species
Desmodus (bundle tooth) rotundus (round)

Fast Facts

Pointed ears; longer thumb (in comparison to other true vampire bats); 20 teeth, with largest being 2 upper canines and 2 upper incisors
Wingspan: 32 to 35 cm (12 to 13 in.)
30 to 35 g (1 to 1.2 oz.)
Hematophagous and feed on the blood of animals like cows, pigs, and horses.
200 days
Sexual Maturity
9 months
Life Span
9 years in the wild, up to 20 years in captivity
This species occurs in Uruguay, northern Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and northern Chile, north to Mexico. It can also be found on Margarita Island (Venezuela) and Trinidad.
Limited to warm climates. It can be found in both arid and humid parts of the tropics and subtropics. It occurs up to 2,400 m (7,800 ft.). Vampire Bats roost in moderately lighted caves with deep fissures, and in tree hollows. They can also be found in old wells, mine shafts and abandoned buildings.
Global: This species is abundant and the population is stable. The population is not severely fragmented.
IUCN: Least concern
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  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 do not suck blood. They make a small incision and lap up the blood of their hosts.
  5. 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.

Ecology and Conservation

This species is found in large colonies, ranging from 20 to 100 individuals although much larger colonies (up to 5,000) have been reported.

Vampire bats are prey for nocturnal predators like owls.

Vampire bats are considered agricultural pests in Latin America where cattle raising is taking precedence over the rainforests. 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.

This species is persecuted due to rabies but this is not a major threat.


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.

Barquez, R., Perez, S., Miller, B. & Diaz, M. 2015. Desmodus rotundus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T6510A21979045. Downloaded on 11 October 2018.