Nearing the end of October we can’t help but think of things that scare us. And although there are many mammals out there that terrifying, one animal that has become a Halloween icon is the bat.
The earth is covered with bats and the more than 1,000 different species make up about 20% of the classified mammals. While most of the bats found in the world are insect and fruit eaters, when Halloween rolls around the vampire bat is the star of the species.
These sharp-toothed bloodsuckers live in Central and South America where they can stay warm throughout the year. There are three varieties of vampire bats and each seeks the blood of different types of prey. The white-winged vampires and the hairy-legged vampires prefer the blood of poultry, while the common vampire hangs around the farm preferring to bite cows and other livestock.
It is the common vampire bat that may have inspired the fictional vampires portrayed in literature today, they are the only variety of bat that has been know to bite humans. But even these bats are tiny and more likely to bite your feet than you’re your neck because they feed on the ground.
Just like other species of bats the vampires have incredible senses that allow them to survive as nocturnal hunters. They live in groups and because their food source is sometimes scarce, they share.
So this Halloween when you see little vampires roaming the neighborhood for candy think of their inspiration and know that the original bloodsuckers are very complicated and interesting creatures.
If you want to learn more about the other varieties of bats check out Arbordale’s two bat books Home in the Cave and Little Red Bat!