Scientists Say: Vampire

These bats, moths and other creatures love the taste of blood


It may look harmless, but this vampire moth is capable of sticking its hook-shaped tongue under your skin and slurping your blood.

Dumi/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Vampire (adjective, “VAM-pie-er”)

This isn’t just about True Blood or Twilight. Vampire is a word that can be used to describe organisms that slurp out the fluids of their prey. Vampire bats drink animal blood. Some vampire moths do, too. Vampire spiders don’t sip on blood directly, but they love a mosquito that’s got a blood-bloated belly. And mosquitoes, tick and bed bugs may not have the word “vampire” in their names, but like other vampires, they need blood to survive. There’s even a bird — the red-billed oxpecker — that likes to slurp from the open wounds of mammals. Delicious.

In a sentence

Vampire bats don’t just like animal blood, they need it; if they don’t get a blood meal every one or two days, they die.

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Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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