Common Vampire Bat

Desmodus rotundus

Scientific Name

Common Vampire Bat:  
Desmodus rotundus

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

Common vampire bats are found in Central America, all but the southern tip of South America, as well as the Margarita and Trinidad Islands.

Natural Habitat

You will find these bats in arid and humid areas of the tropics and sub tropics. They usually inhabit caves but can also be found in hollow trees, old wells, mine shafts and abandoned buildings.

Physical Characteristics

  • These bats are dark gray or brownish in color on the head and back with paler undersides.  Common vampire bats have pointed ears, no tail and larger thumbs than other species of vampire bat. They have deep grooves in their lower lip that aids them in lapping up blood.  Vampire bats have a heat sensing organ on the tip of their nose that helps them to locate the blood vessels close to the skin on their prey.

Quick Facts

  1. In the process of searching for food, they may fly only three feet from the ground to an exposed area of an animal and then painlessly cut away a small piece of skin.


  2. The saliva of vampire bats has an anticoagulant to keep the blood flowing and prevent it from clotting while they are feeding.  They feed for about 30 minutes, but do not remove enough blood to harm their host.  Their bites may cause infection and disease.


  3. Vampire bats have few teeth because of their liquid diet, but those they have are razor sharp.


M&T Bank Rainforest Falls

Conservation Status

Least Concern: The Common Vampire Bat is common or abundant and is likely to survive in the wild.

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Vampire bats feed entirely on blood. In the wild, they prefer to feed from slow, domestic animals like cows and horses. In human care, these bats are given blood, obtained from slaughterhouses.