Vampire Bats May Soon Invade Texas

February 14, 2012 / Texas, United States, North America
Arnulfo Moreno-Valdez, director of the Natural Museum of Tamaulipas in Mexico, displays a vampire bat.

Photo by Arnulfo Moreno-Valdez

Researchers at Texas State University are predicting that vampire bats may soon move into the state.

The bats, which will not survive in places that fall below 10 degrees Celsius (50° Fahrenheit) for any length of time, have been able to expand their territory in Mexico because of climate change.

Based on current models, it is expected that within 50 years the infamous bats may be year round residents in the state.

In contrast with other bats, which are welcomed for their insect fighting ability, vampire bats are a concern as they could pose a threat to the states huge livestock population.

The bats target cattle and other livestock, approaching the animal on the ground, and licking it with anesthetic saliva that also prevents blood from clotting. Then it bites the victim with razor-sharp teeth and laps up the free-flowing blood. Since they feed on mammals, they can easily spread rabies and infect herds of domestic livestock. They also tend to target the same victim night after night, and repeated feedings can kill individual animals.

There are now plans to explore possible areas where the vampire bats may roost in order to monitor their temperatures. If these sites show stable temperatures, an indication of possible habitation, preventive measures could be taken.

Warmer winters could prove inviting for invasive vampire bats [Texas State University via Dean Wiseman]

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