Some animals drink blood to survive. But blood is such an odd source of nourishment. It is low in calories and nutrients and high in water and salt. For blood-sucking creatures to survive, they have to pierce their prey and drink its blood. Then, they need to digest and survive off this blood.
Vampiric creatures can be parasitic or a result of evolution. Either way, they are fascinating and rare.
Let’s explore the top 5 vampiric creatures in the world.
#1 Vampire Bats
These nocturnal bloodsuckers are well-adapted. They developed physical characteristics to support their lifestyle. They have heat sensors in their faces to help them detect blood vessels and two sharp teeth to pierce flesh. As they feed, their saliva injects an anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting.
Vampire bats feed on livestock, such as cows, pigs, horses, and chickens. Yet, any animal is fair game.
Afraid a vampire bat might take a sip from you? It is rare but can happen. Don’t worry, these animals drink only about a tablespoon of blood, and the feeding is painless. Many animals don’t even wake up as these stealthy drinkers feed.
These blood-suckers have to feed regularly, or they die. They cooperate well with their fellow vampire bats. These mammals even regurgitate blood for a fellow bat who was unable to find food for the night.
Lampreys look like something out of a horror film. These vampiric fish are simple vertebrates. They lack fins, scales, and bones; instead, they have a skeleton made of cartilage. Humans can consume these fish, notably King Henry I ate so many he died. But they are not commonly eaten fish.
This blood-sucking fish uses its suction-cup mouth to latch onto fish such as trout. It pierces its prey with its pointy, sharp teeth. It peels back the fish’s flesh with a rough tongue, then it ingests the fish’s blood and other bodily fluids.
They are born in freshwater, but often as they grow, they make their way to the sea. In the sea, they begin their lives as parasitic creatures. Then, when it is time to spawn, they return to their freshwater origins.
Yet, there is a large population of lampreys living in the fresh waters of the Great Lakes in North America. Their habit of eating lots of freshwater fish makes them enemies of local fishermen.
Still, the lamprey is a prehistoric blood-sucking creature. When they die, their carcasses provide nutrients to riverbeds and lake bottoms. They also provide food to other predators. Their habits may be gross to us, but they serve an important place in the balance of their ecosystems.
You may have seen a leech on TV or heard about bloodletting. You may have even had one of them latch on while wading in a creek. Leeches have a reputation for being gross.
They are a species of worm that live in water. They have suckers on both ends of their long, elastic bodies. Contrary to popular belief, they only have one mouth. The other sucker helps the leech hang onto its host. These blood suckers feed on small amphibians, birds, fishes, and larger mammals.
They have hypothermic needle-like mouthparts. This leaves a y-shape on your skin after feeding. Their saliva widens blood vessels, numbs the cut, and prevents clotting.
Many leeches can live a year off one feeding. In the past, humans used leeches to heal. They believed leeches drained off bad humors that caused illness. Today, some surgeons use leeches to drain excess blood off wounds with pooled blood.
Leeches may send a shiver down your spine. Yet, these adaptive vampiric worms are beneficial for aiding blood flow and circulation.
#4 Vampire Finches
This blood-sucking animal is a sharp-beaked finch endemic to the Galapagos Islands. The vampire finch sucks the blood of Nazcas and blue-footed Boobies.
These vampires peck at the boobies’ feathers and skin until they draw blood. Then, they drink up. The boobies do not seem bothered by this behavior and scientists believe this habit emerged from finches pecking at parasitic bugs on boobies. Since blood is hard to digest, vampire finches have special bacteria in their guts.
These finches do not drink blood regularly, only when food is scarce. So, this is an adaptation out of necessity.
#5 Vampire Moths
There are a few species of vampiric moths in the world. Scientists believe these vampiric moths adapted from fruit eaters. They have a hook and barbed tongue they use to pierce their prey’s flesh. Only the male moths suck blood.
The hypothesis is that males take the salts from the blood and pass them along to the females during mating. This helps boost the young larvae. The adaptation of blood-sucking may give the larvae an advantage. This increases their ability to survive. Scientists recently discovered these vampiric moths. So, there is still a lot to learn about them.
Vampiric creatures are rare. These creatures need special characteristics to eat and digest blood. Although bloodsucking animals may be cringeworthy, they are part of our diverse world. These creatures evolved to their surroundings in spectacular ways.