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Common Vampire Bat
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Chiroptera
Family: Phyllostomidae
Subfamily: Desmodontinae
Genus: Desmodus
Wied-Neuwied, 1826
Species: D. rotundus
Binomial name
Desmodus rotundus
Geoffroy, 1810

The Common Vampire Bat (Desmodus rotundus) is a species of vampire bat. They have burnt amber colored fur on their backside while soft and velvety light brown fur covers their belly. They have large pointy ears and a flat leaf-shaped nose. Their babies use tiny thumbs in the middle of the wing to cling on the mother’s furry belly. Vampire bats are about 9 cm (3.5 in) long and have a wingspan of 18 cm (7 in). They commonly weigh about 57 grams (2 oz), but that can double after just one feeding.[1]



Vampire bats feed on the blood of large birds, cattle, horses, pigs, dogs and many other animals including humans. However, they don’t suck the blood directly from their prey, they let it flow from the wound first before lapping it up.

The Common Vampire is a highly evolved bat. The front teeth, lips and tongue are highly specialized, with the former used to trim the surrounding fur of the host, acting like scissors. Then a piece of skin is removed by the razor-sharp V-shaped front teeth, much like using a spoon to scoop ice cream out of a cup. During this process the animal's saliva, which contains an anticoagulant, is released and the resulting wound bleeds freely, enabling the vampire to feed using grooves in its lower lip and under its tongue. The grooves form a straw-like structure enabling the bat to suck the blood rather than lapping it.


The vampire bat is one of the few known bats capable of walking, jumping and hopping. This is accomplished by folding its wings in such a fashion that the animal literally walks on its thumbs.[2] This behavior is important because it permits the bat to stealthily maneuver on the ground and host. Vampires climb to get to places on the host, such as shoulders, underside of the tail and teats and soft tissue near the hoof to get to the unique spot. Often they will return night after night to the same animal (particularly tethered farm animals), so they just have to lift the scab from previous visits to get more blood. It is speculated that before the introduction of domesticated animals, vampires fed upon a wide variety of animals including opossums, armadillos, raccoons, snakes, birds, monkeys, and so forth.[3]

Worker holding Common Vampire Bat. Trinidad, 1956. Courtesy of the Greenhall's Trust - WI


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ A.M. Greenhall and U. Schmidt, editors. 1988. Natural History of Vampire Bats, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. ISBN 0849367506; ISBN 978-0849367502, pp. 72-79.
  3. ^ A.M. Greenhall and U. Schmidt, editors. 1988. Natural History of Vampire Bats, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. ISBN 0849367506; ISBN 978-0849367502, pp. 114ff.


  • Chiroptera Specialist Group (1996). Desmodus rotundus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
  • Greenhall, Arthur M. 1961. Bats in Agriculture. A Ministry of Agriculture Publication. Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Greenhall, Arthur M. 1965. The Feeding Habits of Trinidad Vampire Bats.
  • Greenhall, A., G. Joermann, U. Schmidt, M. Seidel. 1983. Mammalian Species: Desmodus rotundus. American Society of Mammalogists, 202: 1-6.
  • A.M. Greenhall and U. Schmidt, editors. 1988. Natural History of Vampire Bats, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. ISBN 0849367506; ISBN 978-0849367502
  • Riskin, Daniel K. and John W. Hermanson. 2005. Biomechanics: Independent evolution of running in vampire bats. Nature 434: 292-292. Abstract, video.
  • Kishida R, Goris RC, Terashima S, Dubbeldam JL. (1984) A suspected infrared-recipient nucleus in the brainstem of the vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus. Brain Res. 322:351-5.
  • Campbell A, Naik RR, Sowards L, Stone MO. (2002) Biological infrared imaging and sensing. Micron 33:211-225. pdf.

External links



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Desmodus rotundus


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Superordo: Laurasiatheria
Ordo: Chiroptera
Subordo: Microchiroptera
Superfamilia: Noctilionoidea
Familia: Phyllostomidae
Subfamilia: Desmodontinae
Genus: Desmodus
Species: Desmodus rotundus


Desmodus rotundus (E. Geoffroy, 1810)

Type locality: Paraguay, Asuncion.


  • cinerea D'Orbigny, 1834
  • dorbignyi Waterhouse, 1838
  • ecaudatus Schinz, 1821
  • fuscus Burmeister, 1854
  • mordax Burmeister, 1879
  • murinus Wagner, 1840
  • rufus Wied-Neuwied, 1824


  • E. Geoffroy, 1810. Ann. du Museum National d'Histoire naturelle Paris, 15: 181.
  • Conservation status: IUCN link: Desmodus rotundus (Least Concern)
  • Desmodus rotundus on Mammal Species of the World.
    Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed).


  • Uruguay, North Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and North Chile north to Sonora, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas (Mexico)
  • Margarita Island (Venezuela)
  • Trinidad

Vernacular names

Česky: Upír obecný
Deutsch: Gemeiner Vampir
English: Common Vampire Bat
Español: Desmodus rotundus
Français: Desmodus rotundus
עברית: ערפד מצוי
Lietuvių: Didysis vampyras
Nederlands: Gewone vampier
日本語: ナミチスイコウモリ
Polski: Wampir zwyczajny
Português: Morcego-vampiro
Runa Simi: Wiruchu
Suomi: Isoverenimijä
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Desmodus rotundus on Wikimedia Commons.


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