Where Do Vampire Bats Live?

vampire-bats-live Credit: Mark Dumont/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

Vampire bats occupy a range that extends from Mexico south to Argentina and Chile. However, there are three extant species of vampire bats, and the exact range depends upon the species.

The three extant vampire species are the common, white-winged and hairy-legged vampire bats. The common vampire bat has the widest range of the three species, ranging from northern Mexico to northern Chile and central Argentina, and also the Caribbean Islands of Trinidad and Margarita. It is absent from central Mexico and the high Andes, as the species prefers more humid habitats. It is possible that common vampire bats inhabit a much wider range today than in the past, due mostly to the introduction of domestic livestock that provide a more abundant prey base.

White-winged vampire bats ranges from northeastern Mexico south to southern Brazil and northern Argentina. They do not occupy western Mexico and are absent from central regions of Columbia, Ecuador and Peru.

The least common and least studied vampire species is the hairy-legged vampire bat. Their range is similar to that of the white-winged vampire bat but does not extend as far south into Brazil and Argentina. The hairy-legged vampire bat is the only vampire species to have a confirmed sighting in the United States -- a solitary female in Val Verde country in 1967.

Common vampire bats are an economic nuisance in many parts of their range due to the potential of their spreading disease among livestock. Common vampires are generalists that prey upon a diverse range of species. Both white-winged and hairy-legged vampires are avian specialists and have little to no impact on humans.