Most bats are generally odd mammals which feed on mainly insects, fruits and meat. But as evolution will have it, some known as vampire bats have learned to suck blood and derive nutrition from it. Vampire bats are species of bats which feeds on blood diet –the potentially dangerous diet. They are largely located in some regions in America. This trait is termed Hematophagy.  This is a weird fact at the same time quite interesting and unique because very few animals can depend on blood diet as a primary source of food. The mystery in this is why these night-seeing and blood-sucking animals digest blood, tend not to fall sick and manage to survive diseases such as viruses and bacteria. Well, here are some answers.

The vampire bats possess a special kind of microbiome in their digestive tract which helps them to digest sucked blood. The gut performs different kinds of tasks, focusing on breaking down protein. These bat’s stomach contains series of bacteria which gives resistant to the diseases contained in the digested blood. In other words, these bacteria protect the bats from getting infected even if they suck contaminated blood. Surprisingly, these bacteria cause no harm to the bats but if present in other animal bodies such as human would cause sickness. The bats are able to obtain good nutrition from their primary mode of feeding because there consists of some nutrients and highly digested protein in the bloodstream. The blood contains nutrients such as iron, nitrogen, and salt.

Vampire bats can easily detect and locate blood vein hotspot on their prey. This is done by infrared radiation. The only other vertebrates capable of this are the boas, python and pit vipers. These bats possess front teeth specialized for cutting. The teeth which lacks enamel which help them to suck blood from their prey in their sleep without waking or alerting the animals. Their saliva contains an enzyme that stops sucked blood from coagulating. They also have a long tongue to lap up flowing blood. Below is a picture showing the front teeth of the vampire bats.

The world’s two bat species that eat just blood are the hairy-legged vampire bat and the white-winged vampire bat. Even though this kind of mammal is unique in its own way and important in the food chain, they can infect other mammals with diseases such as rabies, SARS, and HSV. A simple dropping from their feces contains a wide range of bacteria.

Share on facebook