False Vampire Bat

false vampire bat
False Vampire Bat
Gary Braasch/Corbis

The largest bat in the New World and the only species in its genus, Vampyrum spectrum was once thought to drink blood. It is now known to feed instead on rodents, birds, and occasionally insects, as well as other bats — hence the word "false" in its common name.

The bats capture mice by pouncing on them and breaking their neck, back, or skull. They grasp birds by the beak and crush the skull with their teeth. Food is usually taken to a roost to be eaten.


Unlike most bats, they are believed to pair-bond. The male has been observed folding its wings around the female and young while nesting by day, presumably to aid in heat retention.

They roost in small groups, usually in hollow trees or snags.

Habitat destruction seriously threatens the species.


Animal Facts

Name: False Vampire Bat (Vampyrum spectrum)

Family: Phyllostomidae (New World Leaf-Nosed Bats)


Range: Southern Mexico to Peru and Brazil; Trinidad

Habitat: Tropical forest

Diet: Other bats, birds, rodents, and possibly some fruit and insects

Head and Body Length: 5 to 5.3 inches (12.5 to 13.5 cm)

Forearm: 4 to 4.3 inches (10 to 11 cm)

Weight: 5 to 7 ounces (150 to 200 g)

Life Cycle: Little is known; in captivity, one young born in June

Description: Brown fur; leaf-shaped nose; long, pointy teeth; large ears; no tail

Conservation Status: Lower Risk (Near Threatened)

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss

What Can I Do?: Visit the Bat Conservation International and the Organization for Bat Conservation for information on how you can help.

Related Content: Safari Special — Top Bat