World Dracula Day? Who Knew?

A hand drawing of a bat wearing a Dracula cape. It's not very good.
A Dracula bat, as rendered by President Leslie. Or maybe it’s a bat wrapped in a strange taco. We’re just not sure.

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good week. I am looking forward to a nice three-day weekend. I plan on sleeping late each of those three days. And I am very happy about it. I found out that today is “World Dracula Day”. World Dracula Day celebrates the anniversary of the first publication of Bram Stoker’s book Dracula. The book was first published 121 years ago.

In honor of World Dracula Day, I thought we should learn about vampire bats. Even before Europeans came to the Americas, they had stories about vampires. The early vampires were monsters, but not really bats. The association with bats came with Stoker’s book. After the publication of the book, these cute little bats got their name. The book didn’t really help their reputation, so in an attempt to improve their image, let’s learn the truth about these little critters.

First, there are three kinds of vampire bats. They all live in Central and South America, not Transylvania. And all they eat is blood. They don’t eat any other food or even drink water. Because of their diet, vampire bat guano has a very strong smell. This makes it easy to find their roosts.

Vampire bats don’t really want to drink human blood. They usually feed off livestock animals and birds. Since these bats are small, they only consume about a tablespoon of blood. That means that the animal they use for their meal might not even realize they have been bitten.

One interesting characteristic of vampire bats is that their nose is able to sense heat, which helps them find blood vessels. Another interesting characteristic is that vampire bats can run. Their ancestors lost the ability to run when they developed the ability to fly. But these bats re-evolved to be able to run again. This helps them sneak up on sleeping animals for their meals.

In past blog posts, we learned about how vampire bats will share blood to help friends who are hungry. We also learned how a protein in their saliva is an anticoagulant and scientists are studying it to see if it could help stroke patients. 

So, as you can see, vampire bats are actually amazing animals and not scary at all. If you would like to read more about these bats, you can find information here. [And please check out or friend Dr. Carter and his fascinating site, SocialBat.org –Ed.]

I hope you all have a nice week.

 

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