Monday, April 03, 2006
Vampire Bats Invade Louisville
Located in its HerpAquarium and stocked initially with seven bachelor bats in a colony expected to grow to 30 or 40 in a year (one of only about 20 in the United States) the furry, winged, blood-drinking mammals with razor-sharp teeth flocked in a cluster on a wooden beam near the top of the darkened exhibit modeled after an abandoned mine shaft.
They swooped down, nearly in unison, to the small pan of cattle blood lapping up several drops at a time before returning to their high roost, again huddling close, several hanging upside down.
Wing, one of the country's leading experts on bats and chairman of the U.S. Association of Zoos & Aquariums bat advisory group, said researchers believe an enzyme in the vampire bat's saliva can be helpful as a blood thinner to prevent strokes in humans.
Vampire bats are about 3 inches long with a 6- to 8-inch wingspan. They usually live to be about 9. Their range is from northern Mexico to Argentina. They colonize abandoned buildings, hollow trees, caves - they eat about two tablespoons of blood a day - nocturnal - biting into other mammals- the prey usually doesn't even know it's serving - the vampires communicate with squeaks and chatter and rely less on echolocation
Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at (502) 582-7089.
Posted by Chris Perridas at 10:58 PM