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Discovery Magazine 10/1/2000


The Bloodthirsty Vampire Bat

We all have heard stories about Count Dracula. His dark cape and raised collar hide his pale face and his two sharp fangs. According to legends, the Count is part human and part vampire bat. Every Halloween, some people dress up like this blood-sucking legend. But the truth is, he is only a legend. There are no vampires like Count Dracula who attack humans.

But even though vampires like Dracula do not exist, there are some vampires that are very real—vampire bats. The word vampire means "to prey off of others." These bats are called vampires because they drink the blood of other animals. And the way they get that blood is amazing.

Common vampire bats are excellent hunters. Usually they do their hunting in the darkest part of the night, when most animals are asleep. They almost always hunt domestic animals such as cattle, horses, pigs, and chickens.

The bats prefer to find their prey sleeping. Sometimes they land right on the animals. Other times they land on the ground and sneak up beside the animal. These little bats are only about the size of a sparrow, so sneaking up on an animal is not too difficult. As they approach the animal, little heat sensors on the bat’s nose help them locate veins that are close to the skin. Then the bat makes a quick cut into the flesh with its razor-sharp teeth. Many times the prey is not irritated by the bite because there is a special chemical in the bat’s saliva that numbs the skin. This chemical is much like the shot a dentist gives you when he fills a cavity in one of your teeth.

Once the cut is made, the bat does not suck out the blood like most people think. Instead, he laps up the blood like a dog drinks water. Although this may sound painful, the bite really does not do much harm to the victim, and the loss of blood is so small that the victim usually does not miss it.

Vampire bats have good vision, heat sensors, special chemicals, and razor sharp teeth. God designed them to be excellent hunters. In fact, this world is filled with thousands of examples of God’s wonderful design. And just think—He even designed people so that they can study amazing creatures like bats and realize how powerful God really is.



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