Vampire Bats Not to be Feared

Myths abound of blood-sucking bats that prey on people. Even the notorious blood-sucker himself, Dracula, turns into a fluttering bat in some versions of the story. This further compounds the myth that bats seek out unsuspecting people for a tasty meal.

In reality, bats are not the demonic creatures many people make them out to be. Vampire bats really do exist, but there are only three species and they live in Central and South America. Vampire bats survive on the blood of birds and other mammals. However, they don't target humans.

Vampire bat bodies are about the size of one's thumb, with a wingspan of about 8 inches. They do not "suck" blood. Rather, they bite their victims. The saliva of these bats contains a substance that prevents the blood from clotting. The bats then lap up the running blood. Another chemical in the saliva numbs the animals' skin and keeps them from waking up while the bat is feeding at night.

Bats that are found elsewhere in the world generally feed upon insects or fruit. Bats actually can be beneficial, eating mosquitoes and other nuissance bugs.