The “M” shaped nose of Vampire Bats makes this creature of the night appear even more menacing, but you need not worry too much about becoming a bedtime snack.
Vampire Bats of the three different species commonly known as the Hairy-legged Vampire Bat, the White Winged Vampire Bat and the Common Vampire Bat are found from Mexico through Central America and into Brazil, Argentina and Chile. They inhabit tropical and suptropical forest, but can be found in pasturelands at night when hunting for their prey. Some of the places where they can be observed in Costa Rica consist of Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park, Juan Castro Blanco National Park, Corcovado National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Piedras Blancas National Park.
Mating & Reproduction
Vampire Bats live in colonies which are also referred to as harems. These harems are usually constituted of a few resident males who are the primary maters, and a larger group of female bats. The females in the group do not exclusively mate with the resident males. Nonresident males are accepted into harems when the temperature decreases. This may be because the group must maintain a certain temperature to maintain health.
Female newborns stay in their birth group for most of their life unless their mother dies, but even then the bats are often adopted by other bats in their birth groups. Male bats usually stay in their birth groups for about two years when they either leave of their own accord or are forcefully made to leave by resident males in the harem.
Unlike the Common Vampire Bat, the Hairy-legged Vampire Bat and the White-winged Vampire Bat do not feed mainly on livestock. Both of these species tend to feed on birds with more regularity. Common Vampire Bats have been known to take blood from sleeping humans, but it isn’t common. They are also carriers of rabies, and it is recommended to seek a medical professional if you think you’ve been the victim of a feeding.
Vampire Bats often live in caves, tree hollows, abandoned buildings, old wells and mines. They prefer to feed on females that are in estrus (heat), and they do so with their razor sharp incisors. These teeth are not made of enamel and grow continuously.
Vampire Bats, along with other hematophages, are studied for the anticoagulants that are produced in their saliva. This chemical compound keeps blood from clotting, and could prove useful for several medical conditions.
Vampire Bats have impressively quick digestive tracts that accommodate the large quantities of blood they consume in a feeding. They weigh around 40 grams, but normally consume around 20 grams of blood in a feeding. This also accommodates their habit of sharing food with other members of their colony.
Where to see it in Costa Rica: Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Juan Castro Blanco National Park, Corcovado National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Piedras Blancas National Park
Diet: mammalian blood
Migration Pattern: non-migratory
Habitat: tropical and subtropical forest, pastureland
Size: length=9 cm weight=57 g wingspan=18 cm
Species: Desmodus rotundus, Diaemus youngi, Diphylla ecaudata