Desmodus rotundus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Chiroptera Phyllostomidae

Scientific Name: Desmodus rotundus (É. Geoffroy, 1810)
Common Name(s):
English Vampire Bat, Common Vampire Bat

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-07-20
Assessor(s): Barquez, R., Perez, S., Miller, B. & Diaz, M.
Reviewer(s): Solari, S.
This species is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, and because it is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in Uruguay, northern Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and northern Chile, north to Sonora, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas (Mexico). It also occurs on Margarita Island (Venezuela) and Trinidad (Simmons 2005).
Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Belize; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Trinidad and Tobago; Uruguay; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2400
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is abundant.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is found in large colonies, ranging from 20 to 100 individuals although much larger colonies (up to 5,000) have been reported. Desmodus rotundus roosts in moderately lighted caves with deep fissures, and in tree hollows. Common Vampire Bats can also be found in old wells, mine shafts and abandoned buildings. Roosts often smell strongly of ammonia because of the digested blood that has collected in the crevices and on the floors of the roosts (Mulheisen and Anderson 2001). Common Vampire Bats are limited to warm climates. It can be found in both arid and humid parts of the tropics and subtropics. It occurs up to 2,400 m asl (Ramirez pers. comm.).

It is hematophagous, meaning it feeds on blood. 

This bat is a social animal that hunts and lives in groups. Individuals live in colonies consisting of both males and females. In captivity, dominance hierarchies based on access to food were observed, but there is little conclusive evidence of complex hierarchies in the wild. Curiously, most close associations are formed between several females or females and their offspring; adult males do not form close social ties in the roost. Females frequent more roost site than males, making associations in many different places. The associations between females are maintained over many years. Wilkinson (1985, 1986) reported that although self-grooming occurs more often, social grooming is an important part of the Common Vampire Bat's behaviour. Social grooming usually occurs between females and their offspring, but it is also significant between adult females. The adult females participating in grooming are usually closely related or roost mates. Wilkinson (1986) found that social grooming has more to do with food sharing than with the removal of ectoparasites. In many instances, social grooming begins with one female approaching another and grooming her for as long as two minutes. The female being groomed then regurgitates part of her blood meal for the grooming female. It is also common to see females regurgitate food for their offspring.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species it not utilised.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is persecuted due to rabies but this is not a major threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There is a need to promote education of people to prevent further colony elimination.

Classifications [top]

0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
7. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) -> 7.1. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) - Caves
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.5. Artificial/Terrestrial - Urban Areas
4. Education & awareness -> 4.2. Training

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes

Bibliography [top]

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Mulheisen, M. and Anderson, R. 2001. Desmodus rotundus (On-line). Available at: (Accessed: May 10).

Simmons, N.B. 2005. Order Chiroptera. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World, pp. 312-529. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Wilkinson, G. 1985. The social organization of the common vampire bat. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 17(2): 111-122.

Wilkinson, G. 1986. Social grooming in the common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus. Animal Behaviour 34(6): 1880-1889.

Citation: Barquez, R., Perez, S., Miller, B. & Diaz, M. 2015. Desmodus rotundus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T6510A21979045. . Downloaded on 24 April 2018.
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