Vespertilio spectrum (now Vampyrum spectrum) - The Spectral Bat

Also known as the false vampire bat and Linnaeus’ vampire bat, the spectral bat may not bite humans like the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), but small animals and large insects have much more to fear from this stealthy hunter.

True vampire bats (Desmodus sp.) hunt by opening a small wound in an animal while it sleeps, with razor sharp teeth that don’t even wake the victim. It laps up the blood, and flies away undetected. The fact that the animals are almost always unharmed by this encounter makes true vampire bats the only parasitic mammals.

Spectral bats, on the other hand, are absolute hunters. They do not drink blood like true vampire bats, and often hunt much like owls, stealthily patrolling the edges of forests at night, and swooping down to attack and consume large insects, small mammals, reptiles, and even other bats (whose distress calls can attract many spectral bats from miles around).

The spectral bat is much larger than the true vampire bats, and has large ears and decent sight. It hunts by using its large canine teeth to puncture either the cervical arteries or the brain-case of small vertebrates, or sever the head of insects. Like the true vampires, spectral bats are nocturnal, and live in the Americas. However, they’re not as ubiquitous, being confined mostly to the northwest quadrant of South America, and living almost exclusively in forested regions. 

Images:

Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

Die Säugthiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur.  Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber, 1775.

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