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Vampire Bat Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

The idea of a vampire bat scares most people. This lesson will teach you about vampire bats, how they got their name, whether or not they feed on people and some other interesting facts about these creatures.

What Is a Vampire Bat?

Imagine you are walking through a pasture at night. Moonlight brightens the darkness surrounding you. You see a cow resting in the grass, and you notice that it seems to have a lump on its neck. As you get closer, you see that it's not a lump, it's a bat, and it's drinking the cow's blood! You've just seen a vampire bat!

Vampire bats are small bats that have sharp teeth and drink the blood of other warm-blooded animals. They are the only mammals that only drink blood to survive.

Museum exhibit of a vampire bat drinking sheep blood
Museum Exhibit of a Vampire Bat Drinking Sheep Blood

You might picture a giant, flying bat that stalks its victims, but vampire bats are only about three and a half inches long, which is only a little longer than some caterpillars. Their wings are about seven inches tip to tip.

Vampire bats are most active at night and use echolocation (pronounced EH-koh-low-KAY-shun), or high, sharp sounds that bounce off things around them that people can't hear, to find dinner. Although we aren't their favorite meal, they will drink human blood, which can make people sick because vampire bats can pass on diseases when they bite.

Museum exhibit of a vampire bat biting a human foot
Museum Exhibit of a Vampire Bat Biting a Human

What Do Vampire Bats Eat?

Vampire bats are carnivores, which means they feed on animals, but they don't have teeth to chew like you do because they don't eat the meat of the animal. Just like the vampires in scary stories that gave them their name, vampire bats drink blood after taking a bite out of their meal with needle sharp teeth in the front of their mouth. Some of their favorite snacks include cow, sheep and horse blood, because these animals tend to sleep out in the open and can sleep through the whole thing.

But vampire bats don't jump on their victims and take a bite. They land on the ground and creep over to where their snack is snoozing, the way you sneak around when you play hide and seek. Their nose is like an x-ray machine, and can find blood pumping through veins. They take a quick bite and then leap back to make sure their dinner doesn't wake up. If their dinner stays asleep they will crawl up and drink the blood using their tongue.

Although the vampire bats don't drink enough blood to harm the animal, the wounds caused by the bites can get infected or diseased.

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