Zoo welcomes blood-suckers | Arkansas Blog

Zoo welcomes blood-suckers

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The Little Rock Zoo welcomes some newborn vampire bats.

The Little Rock Zoo is proud to announce two newborn vampire bats and one on the way.

The newborns and pregnant female were discovered by Zoo staff during a routine check-up performed by Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Marilynn Baeyens.  The bats were discovered while Baeyens and two zoo keepers were giving annual rabies vaccinations to the bats and microchipping them for identification.  To see a fun video of zoo keeper Randal Berry capturing the bats from their exhibit, follow this link: http://www.vimeo.com/1553179.

The Little Rock Zoo has four breeding pairs of vampire bats, so the birth of the babies was no surprise.  However, because the babies rest under their mother’s wing, they are hard to see at times.  Following a seven month gestation period, newborns are completely dependent on their mother- resting under her wing and nursing for more than eight months before learning to eat on their own.  After weaning, mothers will feed the babies regurgitated blood until the offspring are able to feed themselves.

Native to Central and South America, the vampire bats made the Little Rock Zoo their North American home in November 2006.  While the name is imposing, vampire bats are actually small creatures with a wingspan of about eight inches and a body similar to the size of a human thumb.  Although they do feed on blood, it is rare they choose humans.  Instead, the tiny bats focus on large birds, cattle, horses and pigs to get their nourishment.

Zoo keepers say the best time to catch a glimpse of the baby bats is during the bats’ daily feeding at 10:30 a.m. when the colony is provided dishes of cattle blood.

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