Let us now praise famous vampire bats. Today’s hemorrhagic stain on world literature is going to swoop down into a mysterious and misunderstood world. Vampire bats have their very own alias, Desmodus rotundus, which sounds a lot like some fat guy named Desmond picked out their genus names. If you are a sensitive soul or have a sensitive stomach, please skip the rest of this column and go to the crossword puzzle.
Vampire bats have gotten a bad rap. We shall try to erase some bat stigma. Bats are forever associated with Dracula and things that go bump in the night. The literary Dracula was dreamed up by novelist Bram Stoker. Dracula was based upon the real-life Vlad Tepes. Vlad was a bad dude who lived in the 15th century in Transylvania. His nickname was “Vlad the Impaler,” which indicates he was not a guy to be trifled with. Vlad’s hobby was sticking his enemies up on sharp poles to scare away invaders. This tactic is even more frightening than forcing your enemies to watch 24 hours of Fox News.
When Dracula wants to get into a castle bedchamber of a voluptuous sleeping lady, he transmogrifies himself into a bat. Taking a hint from an old Beatles song, Dracula in his vampire bat form comes in through the bathroom window protected by a silver spoon. Once inside m’lady’s bedchamber, Dracula reverts from his bat shape back into Count Dracula. The Count then begins to drain his next victim.
Count Dracula is not nearly as sweet as Count Chocula. Count Dracula is much more likely to cause anemia than the diabetes that Count Chocula causes. It’s a question of choosing your poison.
But back to our friends the vampire bats. The actual facts in this column are based on an excellent article written by Michael Greshko in “National Geographic’s” November 2015 issue. The alternative facts in this column are made up by me.
The diet of vampire bats is blood. They don’t care about the blood type, just that it is blood from people or animals. All they eat is blood. All you need is love.
Being busy critters, they need to consume blood at least every two days, or they can starve to death. Each night, vampire bats go out on a hunting trip to find someone to love and drain. Among their bat superpowers is the ability to sense body heat, which leads them to supper. They are so adept at stealthily removing blood that a person may not wake up while serving as Soylent Green for a bat picnic. After their meal, the National Geo says bats will then urinate half of the ingested blood volume in 30 minutes. Don’t look up.
Vampire bats, like Trump voters, live in groups. Bats are more politically evolved than humans in that female bats appear to rule the bat covens. Bats share. If one of the bats comes back empty after finding no one to snack upon, the other female bats will share their bloody dinner with the hungry bat. Lacking an Easy Bake oven, the blood stuffed-bat can’t prepare a soufflé for the hungry bat. Instead, the full female bat will regurgitate blood into the mouth of the hungry bat. In effect, a bat full of donor blood becomes a flying blood bank that the Red Cross would envy.
Bats are social animals. They know who their friends are who has shared blood with them in the past. They also know who refused to share blood with them when they were hungry.
A fellow named Gerald Carter who worked for the Smithsonian Institution took it upon himself to go hang with the bats in zoos to study bat etiquette regarding bat “vomit snacks.” According to the National Geo, Gerald spent three years “crouching in the bottom of their enclosure with a camcorder” observing bat feeding habits.
One wonders if, when Gerald was a little boy, did he always dream of crouching in a bat habitat for three years watching bats throw up? What childhood trauma could have led Gerald to such an odd career choice? But then, one could ask the same question of a proctologist or a member of the North Carolina General Assembly.
Gerald reports that if a non-sharing bat returned with an empty stomach, the other bats would not share their vomit snacks with the non-sharer. If a previously sharing bat came home empty, the other bats would provide vomit snacks of blood to the sharing bat. Bat karma is a killer.
So, what have we learned today? Vampire bats are nicer than some people. What seems a disgusting vomit snack to some people is ambrosia to bats. We would all be better off if we followed the advice of the late, great Rodney King, who once plaintively asked: “Can’t we all just get along?”