Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Hiya. Hiya Wonders, “What are vampires?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Hiya!

Are you afraid of the dark? Many people are! Called nyctophobia, fear of darkness is one of the most common fears in the world. People make up all kinds of scary stories about things that live in the dark. One of the most common creatures in scary stories about the dark is the vampire

Storytellers say vampires are afraid of light and garlic. In stories like Dracula, vampires attack people at night. So many tales have been told about vampires over the years that some people question their mythical status. Are vampires real?

No, of course vampires aren’t real! However, many animals get their name from the mythical creature. There’s the vampire squirrel, the Dracula ant, and the vampire flying frog. Head to the sea to find a vampire squid or vampire crab. And then there’s the most well-known vampire animal of all—the vampire bat!

Vampire bats commonly weigh about two ounces. However, their weight can double after feeding. On average, the bats are 3.5 inches long with a wingspan of 7 inches. Like other bats, vampire bats are nocturnal. That means they sleep during the day in a dark place. They wake at night to hunt. Is this animal starting to sound a bit like mythical vampires?

The first thing many people WONDER about vampire bats is whether they drink blood like vampires do. The answer is yes, they do. In fact, they’re the only mammal to feed entirely on blood. Vampire bats attack their prey by cutting an artery. Then, they wait for the blood to pool outside the prey’s body. They lap up the blood much like a cat laps up water.

Does that sound creepy? Don’t let it worry you too much! People aren’t vampire bats’ first meal choice. They’d rather feed on chickens, snakes, and small birds. They’re also known to bite cows, pigs, and horses. Often, vampire bats leave their prey alive. However, their bites can spread deadly disease. It’s best to avoid vampire bats if you see them. They will bite people if given the chance.

Vampire bats also have some special skills. Their noses have infrared perception to help them find the blood vessels of their prey. Like other bats, they’re the only mammals with the ability to fly. However, vampire bats can also run. They use their thumbs, wrists, and legs to move along smooth surfaces at three feet per second.

Vampire bats like company. In fact, they form long-lasting friendships like people, primates, and dolphins do. Vampire bats live together and help each other hunt. Sometimes, one bat will bring a meal home for the other bats in its colony, or group.

So, where can you find vampire bats? They’re most common in warm, tropical areas. Vampire bats are common in Mexico, Central America, and South America. They also do well in agricultural areas, as they often feed on farm animals. 

People have nothing to fear from mythical vampires. Stories about them might be scary, but they’re not true! However, we’re definitely going to watch out for the vampire bat. These animals may not be as scary as Dracula, but they pose a much more realistic threat!


Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day might be the opposite of what you expect!