Image Credit to The Centre for the Conservation of Specialized Species


             Desmodus rotundus have adapted in multiple ways in order to be better suited to the environments in which they live. To learn about a few adaptations that make Desmodus rotundus unique, read on!

Infrared Radiation
One of the most commonly asked questions about a vampire bat is how they can tell where to attack their prey. The answer to that question is quite impeccable. Vampire bats have the ability to detect infrared radiation. This means the bat is capable of sensing exactly where the blood of its prey is the warmest which in turn lead is them to the best place for an incision. An experiment done by Gracheva et al. provides evidence that the vampire bat uses excitatory ion channels in its three sensory ganglia located by the nose to sense infrared. As of right now, vampire bats are the only mammals that infrared radiation detection has been found in. This is a great adaptation for Desmodus rotundus because it allows the bat to better locate areas for incision in its prey (Gracheva et al. 2011).The photo below is of a cow but taken with a thermal radiation filter. This is an example of how a bat views cattle before he choosing the perfect feeding site. To learn more about the diet of the common vampire bat check out the nutrition page. 

    Photo Credit to Lauren Krause
Photo Credit to Lauren Krause and Alyssa Ward

  Quick Digestion
     Another great adaptation the vampire bat has is its capability for quick digestion. In a single feeding this extremely light weight bat, can consume up to half of its body weight. After a feeding, the bat is no longer as lightweight making flight much more difficult. Quick digestion of the blood consumed gets the bat the energy it needs for survival and allows it to leave the scene of the crime in no time.  The stomach of a vampire bat is intricate and practically twice the length of its body. As you can infer from the above photo, the vampire bat has a stomach that is much thinner and longer than any of the compared mammals. The lining of the bat’s stomach is where absorption begins. The stomach immediately begins absorbing the plasma from the blood the bat consumes and as many of you may know, about 90 percent of plasma is water. The bat must almost immediately begin excreting this water therefore the kidneys must be on top of their game ( The kidneys and bladder begin excreting water before the bat is even half way done feeding ( Because of the vampire bat's exceptionally muscular stomach and prompt excretion by the kidneys this all blood diet is altogether made possible (Breidenstein 1982). To learn more about the feeding of the common vampire bats click here.

     Bats are the only mammals that can fly. This ability is a pronounced adaptation. Bats are known to possess the same structures as other mammals but have evolved differently. The bone structures of bat wings are similar to those of the hands of humans, fins of whales, and other fore limb structures. Evolutionary studies have proven that by changing the sizes of fore limbs in different mammals (such as those previously listed) you can create the forelimbs of a different mammal. Bat wings contain the same bones as human forelimbs, so why can’t humans fly? Although humans and bats posses similar bone structures they are present in different proportions and shapes ( The bones of bats and long and very thin which are important aspects that make the wings great for flight. The size and curvature of the bones in a bat wing make the wing lightweight and aerodynamic for flight. The curvature of the vampire bat's wings make shape that tends to be more bowl-shaped. The way air passes over the wing shape creates changes in pressure which then in turn lift the wing causing the bat to take flight ( Flight gives a vampire bat many abilities. The vampire bat has the ability to feed and reproduce in a greater span of land but also flight makes escaping from prey more unique.

Movement on Land
     Vampire bats are a species of bat that thrive in captivity consequently making them very easy to study. One group of researchers wanted to study this particular group of bats because of its ability to walk and run on terrestrial land while other species of bats are incapable. Vampire bats are one of the few species of bats that retain the ability to use their four limbs for quick and stealth locomotion. The vampire bat is capable of walking forward, backward, and side-to-side (Riskin & Hermanson 2005). When put onto a treadmill, vampire bats will actually prove that they are indeed qualified to run at speeds up to 2 meters per second. Riskin and Hermanson compared the movement of a walking vampire bat to that of a mouse. When the vampire bats were put on treadmills and began to run Riskin and Hermanson concluded that the running form of the vampire bats were different than that of a mice. With the use of its thumb the running of the vampire bat is much more efficient than a scurrying mouse.  The long forearms of a vampire bat are very competent in carrying the bat a great distance in very few strides (Riskin & Hermanson 2005).

Anticoagulant In Saliva
Vampire bat saliva is different than the saliva of any other bat or mammal for that matter. This species of bat possesses a special component in its saliva to make feeding more efficient. This component is an anticoagulant known as draculin ( This anticoagulant travels down the bats long tongue as the blood of the bat's prey travels up. This anticoagulant prevents the incision from clotting. Because the incision cannot clot, the blood continuously flows to allow the bat to feed quickly and effortlessly (Currie 2012). This anticoagulant has recently become of great interest in the human population. To learn more about why humans are interested in bat saliva check out interactions.