Do vampire bats really exist?

Yes, but not in most of the United States. Of the three species of vampire bats in North America, only a single specimen has been recorded for the United States in extreme southwest Texas. Vampire bats do not suck blood--they make a small incision with their sharp front teeth and lap up the blood with their tongue. Vampire bats in Mexico and South America feed on the blood of livestock such as cattle and horses, as well as deer, wild pigs and even seals.

Learn more about bats at the USGS North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) website.

Related Content

Filter Total Items: 7

Where do bats live?

Bats can be found in almost all parts of the world and in most regions of the United States. In general, bats seek out a variety of daytime retreats such as caves, rock crevices, old buildings, bridges, mines, and trees. Different species require different roost sites. Some species, such as the Mexican free-tailed and gray bats live in large...

Why are bats important?

By eating insects, bats save U.S. agriculture billions of dollars per year in pest control. Some studies have estimated that service to be worth over $3.7 billion per year, and possibly as much as $53 billion. This value does not, however, take into account the volume of insects eaten by bats in forest ecosystems and the degree to which that...

Are bats dangerous? 

All healthy bats try to avoid humans by taking flight and are not purposely aggressive. Most bats are about the size of a mouse and use their small teeth and weak jaws to grind up insects. You should avoid handling bats because several species, such as the hoary and big brown bats, have large teeth that can puncture skin if they are handled...

What do bats eat?

Bats are the most significant predators of night-flying insects. There are at least 40 different kinds of bats in the U.S. that eat nothing but insects. A single little brown bat, which has a body no bigger than an adult human’s thumb, can eat 4 to 8 grams (the weight of about a grape or two) of insects each night. Although this may not sound like...

Are bats blind? 

No, bats are not blind. Bats have small eyes with very sensitive vision, which helps them see in conditions we might consider pitch black. They don’t have the sharp and colorful vision humans have, but they don’t need that. Think of bat vision as similar to a dark-adapted Mr. Magoo (a cartoon character with very poor vision). Learn more at the...

How are bats affected by wind turbines?

Dead bats are found beneath wind turbines all over the world. It’s estimated that tens to hundreds of thousands die at wind turbines each year in North America alone. Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear why this is happening. It’s possible that wind turbines interfere with seasonal migration and mating patterns in some species of bats. More than...

What should I do if I find dead or dying bats, or if I observe bats with signs of White-nose Syndrome?

If you find a dead or dying bat: Contact your state wildlife agency, file an electronic report in those states that offer this service, e-mail U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists in your area, or contact your nearest Fish and Wildlife Service field office to report your potential White-nose Syndrome (WNS) observations. It is important to...
Filter Total Items: 4
Date published: October 23, 2017

Trick or Treat? The Frightening Threats to Bats

Written by Marisa Lubeck and Ethan Alpern

Date published: August 1, 2017

Deadly Fungus Affecting Hibernating Bats Could Spread During Summer

The cold-loving fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or Pd) that causes white-nose syndrome, a disease that has killed millions of North American bats during hibernation, could also spread in summer months. Bats and humans visiting contaminated caves and mines can inadvertently contribute to the spread of the fungus, according to a recently published study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date published: March 31, 2011

Bats Worth Billions to Agriculture: Pest-control Services at Risk

Pest-control services provided by insect-eating bats in the United States likely save the U.S. agricultural industry at least $3 billion a year, and yet insectivorous bats are among the most overlooked economically important, non-domesticated animals in North America, according to an analysis published in this week’s Science magazine Policy Forum. 

Filter Total Items: 16
Hibernating little brown bat
December 31, 2017

Hibernating little brown bat

little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) with white-nose syndrome hibernating in a Virginia cave during late spring of 2016. Patches of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome can be seen growing out of the skin (white areas) near the nose and across the folded wing skin of this bat.  Spherical drops of water condensation coat the bat's outer fur, a

...
Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis), a migratory insectivore known to consume insect pests of agriculture.
December 15, 2016

Brazillian free-tailed bat (tadarida brasiliensis)

Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis), a migratory insectivore known to consume insect pests of agriculture.

Allen's big-eared bat (Idionycteris phyllotis), an insectivore known from the southwestern United States
December 15, 2016

Allen's big-eared bat (Idionycteris phyllotis), an insectivore.

 Allen's big-eared bat (Idionycteris phyllotis), an insectivore known from the southwestern United States.

Spotted Bat
October 26, 2016

Spotted Bat

A spotted bat.

an Indiana bat hanging on to a tree trunk
October 21, 2016

Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)

An Indiana bat hanging on to a tree. (Myotis sodalis)

USGS
September 20, 2012

Terminal Phase Feeding Call of the Hawaiian Hoary Bat

When bats detect an insect from returned echolocation calls they rapidly increase the pulse rate and raise the frequency of calls in order to gather more information on the insect including location. These calls emitted right before a bat closes in on an insect are called terminal phase calls or "feeding buzzes". The frequency is well above human hearing capabilities at 65

...