Scientists have figured out why vampire bats survive on a diet of only blood. (Sherri and Brock Fenton/AAAS via AP)

Scientists have figured out why vampire bats survive on a diet of only blood. (Sherri and Brock Fenton/AAAS via AP)

This little guy has sharp teeth to bite a little hole in the hide of a large animal. Then the bat laps up blood. (Marco A. R. Mello via AP)

This little guy has sharp teeth to bite a little hole in the hide of a large animal. Then the bat laps up blood. (Marco A. R. Mello via AP)

Hannah Kim Frank holds a bat. (Jon Flanders)

Hannah Kim Frank holds a bat. (Jon Flanders)

Vampires are NOT real. But vampire bats are! (123RF)

Vampires are NOT real. But vampire bats are! (123RF)

Totally Weird Vampire Bats

Posted: September 1, 2022

Don’t invite a vampire
to your pool party or campfire:
Other bats munch fruits and buds
but all he likes to eat . . . is blood!

You may wonder: Why do vampire bats eat blood?

Scientists have finally figured that out.

Before we get to that, though, let’s clear something up. Are vampires real?

No.

And yes.

The vampires who change from bats into people and suck other people’s blood are all story and no fact.

But vampire bats are real, and they are the only mammals that survive on a diet of just blood. Vampire bats measure about three inches long. Their wings spread out to seven inches. These bats bite and then lap up blood from livestock or other animals at night.

Now for the science. Researchers compared bats’ genomes. (A genome is all the DNA in a body added together. A genome is a blueprint design that makes you you. Or bats bats. All living creatures with more than one cell have a genome.) The scientists studied vampire bat genomes alongside the genomes of 26 other bat species. And vampire bats came up short. Thirteen of their genes are missing or no longer work!

Over the years, those gene tweaks helped them adapt to an all-blood diet. Blood is rich in iron and protein. But it has very little fats or carbohydrates.

Most mammals couldn’t survive on a low-calorie liquid diet of blood. “Blood is a terrible food source,” says Hannah Kim Frank. She is a bat researcher at Tulane University. “It’s totally bizarre and amazing that vampire bats can survive on blood. They are really weird, even among bats.”

Why? Vampire bats show us God’s wisdom because they help one another. They show us His provision because they benefit people who have blood clots.