Skip Navigation

Species Search:

On the Wild Side: Strange news from the World of Wildlife!

Hairy-legged Vampire Bat
© Merlin D. Tuttle/Bat Conservation International

Hairy-legged Vampires

Discovered in Mexico in the 16th century by the Spanish conquistadores, who named them after the blood-sucking creatures of eastern European legend, vampire bats feed entirely upon blood and occur only in the New World. One is a tiny brown furry creature called the Hairy-legged Vampire Bat.

Sleeping by day in caves or other dark, protected places, Hairy-legged Vampire Bats feed at night, chiefly on the blood of birds, such as chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, and geese. The bat uses its sharp upper incisors to quickly inflict a wound so shallow that the victim rarely notices. Curling the tongue into a tube that fits a V-shaped notch in its lower lip, the feeding bat sips the blood, which flows freely due to an anticoagulant in its saliva. Unless the victim is very small, the amount of blood taken by the bat is not harmful. These large-eyed bats, which live from central Mexico south into South America, rarely feed on mammals.

Learn more about this and other fascinating bats.