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Any of three species (family Desmodontidae) of tailless, brown, blood-eating bats native to the New World tropics. They grow to 2–3.5 in. (6–9 cm) long and weigh 0.5–2 oz (15–50 g). They run swiftly and leap with agility. They live in colonies in caves, hollow trees, and culverts, leaving after dark to forage low on the ground. They feed on quietly resting birds and mammals, including the occasional human, making a small cut with their sharp incisor teeth, often without disturbing the prey, and lapping the blood. The wounds are not serious but may transmit rabies or other diseases.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on vampire bat, visit Britannica.com.