Night had fallen and the moon had risen in the thick darkness. One by one the Vampire bats left their roosts. Those that were mothers to newborns left them in the safety of the deep dark empty well. Cautiously they rose to the top of the well and took flight only a few feet from the ground. Using their radar senses they headed straight to the areas of their usual donors. Each bat remembering exactly all places they had been before to feed on fresh blood. Their victims were local horses, pigs, cows, donkeys, tapirs and other larger four footed animals in the world.
“I’m going to dine upon some of the horses tonight. They seem to be sleeping soundly so I will walk quietly up to one and use my nose sensors to find where the blood is closest to the surface of the skin. Then I will softly light upon that spot and carefully lick the skin in order to soften it. I will lick the hair and flatten it down carefully leaving a few hairs that I will use to tell if the horse moves or begins to waken. I will take a tiny fold of skin in my mouth but only for a brief second and then spit it out. I will use my cheek teeth to shave off the hair. Then when the time is exactly precise, I will use my front incisors to bite into the skin and suck half of my body weight in blood. He won’t miss it and I am so dang hungry. I haven’t eaten in two days now. My bite will be quick and my front teeth as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel.” Zotus said as he briefed several other vampire bats around him of his intentions.
“I know how you do it. I have watched carefully so I can do it as quickly and as painless as you do. I watched you a week or so sink your front incisors into this very same bunch of horses. You were so good they slept through the entire ordeal.” Froto smiled showing his white fang like teeth.
“You slipped your sharp teeth into that horse and he didn’t even flinch. It couldn’t have been more than a couple millimeters wide and a couple millimeters deep. I watched the shallow bowl shaped wound begin to bleed. Then I watched as you injected some of your saliva down into the hole. I really didn’t know why you did that until you explained it to me. The saliva keeps the blood from clotting and keeps the veins from closing up. Good stuff Sir Zotus!” Jettal added as he admired the skills of Zotus quite freely.
“Blood is the only food I need. My stomach is made in a zig zag shape so I can put as much blood as I can in it. My throat is far too narrow for any other kind of food. Did you know that an adult bat can literally starve in as little as 48 hours? It is funny that as babies we drink the milk from the mothers for 9 months. Then we simply change over to the good stuff.” He winked. “Blood nourishes every cell in the body. It is a perfect food!” Zotus smiled with pride batting his wings wildly.
“Yeah but you have to be careful not to stuff yourself too much. If you do, you will not be able to fly. I did that once and fell on my butt. If that cow had moved one inch I would have been only a tiny greasy spot left on the ground. I had to walk, limp, toddle, waddle and leap frog all the way to the edge of the pasture. Lord, I sure learned my lesson quickly.” Peddle explained with huge opened eyes.
“I reckon that was a bit hairy there brother!” Froto laughed.” You have to be alert at all times. Your very life depends on your skills. I am a hopping, leaping, flying, acrobatic fool of a bat. I can fly as fast as lightning, I can hang upside down for hours on end, I can see in total darkness and I have a nose that can detect blood as easy as sucking Pepsi from a straw. Well that is how a human would describe it I suppose.” Froto wrinkled up his tiny face and flapped his wings in excitement.
“I know you are almost like a pit viper or a python. They too have the skill of detecting where the blood flows on their prey. I think they call that an infrared receptor or infrared-sensing snakes. We have small ears and a short tail but we make up for it with out other specialized parts, like the part of our brain that can detect breathing sounds of sleeping animals. It is a good thing we have all of these special things.” Zotus replied. He just wanted everyone to know that he was the oldest and wisest of them all. Of the hundreds of bats in his colony, he was the most intelligent and he didn’t mind everyone knowing it.
“Just be thankful you aren’t a fruit eating bat. Gosh that would be boring!” Froto frowned. “Oh I forgot to mention that I can run up to five miles an hour. I’ll bet I can outrun a human on his best day!” He laughed hysterically.
Zotus gave each bat thirty minutes to feed and then he ordered all of them back to the well. Thirty minutes was the time he had found to be enough to fill his stomach and if he could do it so could they. Once all have finished they gathered together and made their way out of the pasture. The females in the harem would be waiting for them back at the roost.
Zotus had told all the bats in his colony that he was simply tired of beggars and everyone would have to be responsible for finding their own food. He didn’t mind sharing his blood with others but it seemed to be getting a bit out of hand. Some of the bats had become lazy depending on the stronger bats to share their blood with them. It just wasn’t fair. He was going to put a stop to it. “Regurgitation is simply repulsive to me.” He announced quiet loudly to all around him.
The vampire bat’s stomach lining absorbs the blood plasma which goes to the kidneys and bladder. It is excreted in urine within two minutes of feeding. This often makes taking off from the ground a bit easier since the bat has still gained about thirty percent of its own body weight in blood.
“Ok is everyone ready? Remember crouch and fling yourself into the air. We have been gone about two hours and now it is time to return to the roost. Once there we can settle down and rest. Our bodies need time to digest this meal you know.” Zotus directed.
Vampire bats are believed to be the only species of bats in the world to “adopt” another young bat if something happens to the bat’s mother. Vampire bats also share a strong family bond with members of their colony and Zotus planned to keep it that way.
Within minutes the bats disappeared back into the thick darkness from which they came. Dark wells, vacant buildings, chimneys, hollow trees and caves all are homes to the vampire bats. They could be living in your house too!
Another night had ended and another day would soon begin. Zotus and the vampire bats would sleep during the day and be ready to feast on someone’s blood again in the darkness of the next night.
Question: Can bats remember where all the places that they have fed are?
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved