Vampire Animals: 10 of Nature’s Largest Bloodsuckers

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In methodological creatures, vampires are known to feed on blood. However, the animal kingdom is also full of vampire animals that feed exclusively on blood. From insects to mammals to deepwater lurkers and even birds — the following is a list of some of nature’s largest bloodsuckers from the animal kingdom:

10. Fleas

Fleas are tiny, irritating and flightless insects. As external parasites of mammals and birds, they live by consuming the blood of their hosts.

Their bites are itchy and sometimes painful, and getting rid of them is hard. They don’t grow much larger than the tip of a pen, and they range from light brown to almost black in color.

9. Bedbug

Bed bugs are reddish-brown, oval-shaped insects and can be between 1 and 7 millimeters in length. They do not have wings and rely on humans to carry them from one place to the next.

They feed on blood from humans or animals, and they’re most active at night, feeding on their victims while they sleep. Some people will not experience a reaction to a bed bug bite at all. However, those that do experience symptoms of a bite are likely to experience a bite with a red, swollen area and a dark red center.

Bites can happen anywhere on the body. Most commonly they occur on areas of skin that are exposed while sleeping, such as the face, arms, legs, and hands. If you scratch the bite, you may cause a secondary infection that can lead to swelling and bleeding.

Bed bugs can hide for several months without feeding, so getting a professional treatment can help you make sure you’re getting rid of the blood-sucking pests completely.

8. Female Mosquito

Mosquitoes are major pests, but not all mosquitoes are bloodsuckers. In fact, only female mosquitoes bite to suck blood (males feed on flower nectar), causing those red itchy welts on the skin.

They need the nutrition in blood to develop their eggs. Her mouthparts are constructed so that they pierce the skin, literally sucking the blood out and her saliva lubricates the opening.

A female mosquito’s antennae are less bushy and contain several odor receptors that help her target blood sources so that she can reproduce – her primary interest.

Female mosquitoes are generally larger than male mosquitoes.

7. Assassin Bug

Assassin bugs (or kissing bugs) get their names from their habit of biting humans on the face near the lips. They are largely dark brown or black and may have red dots on each side of their broad, flat backs. They measure between 1.2 to 1.6 inches long.

Assassin bugs are particularly threatening “assassins” that require blood meals to survive and reproduce. They are so named because when they descend upon sleeping humans to feed, they bite them on the face, usually near the mouth or eyes. After feeding and ingesting blood, assassin bugs typically defecate near the site of the bite.

Main predators of assassin bugs are birds, rodents, praying mantis, spiders and other assassin bugs. However, Assassin bugs can transmit serious diseases, such as Chagas disease to humans which may lead to heart failure.

6. Madrilenial Butterfly

Most people would probably think butterflies are pretty harmless creatures, flapping around outdoors and doing nothing wrong to anybody.

But they must not have heard of the Madrilenial butterfly (2.75 inches in length), which drinks blood. What is unusual is that this butterfly likes to drink the blood of dead animals, while most animals like to drink the blood of the living.

It might sound disturbing, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Blood contains all manner of minerals and nutrients that are beneficial for most living organisms – and also contains a significant amount of sodium and glucose, two essential dietary blocks for most butterflies.

5. Vampire Finch

The vampire finch is a small bird (about 4.7 inches in length) native to the Galápagos Islands. It is a very distinct subspecies of the sharp-beaked ground finch endemic to Wolf and Darwin Islands.

This bird earns its common name from its unusual diet. It occasionally drinks the blood of Nazca or blue-footed boobies. The vampire finch uses its sharp beak to peck at the feathers and skin of the booby until blood is drawn and drinks the nutritious blood to enrich its diet when seeds and insects are scarce.

4. Vampire Bat

The Vampire Bat is a fascinating creature and one that has been involved with legends for centuries. Like the legendary monster from which they get their name, these small mammals drink the blood of other animals for survival.

They feed on blood from sleeping cows, pigs, horses, and birds. Though uncommon, vampire bats occasionally bite humans for blood.

After putting the bite on an animal, the vampire bat laps up the flowing blood with its tongue. They don’t remove enough blood to harm the animal, but their bites can cause nasty infections and disease.

The Vampire Bat are between 2.75 – 5 inches in length, they have no tail, a wingspan between 13.8 – 15.8 inches and they weigh between 19 and 45 g.

3. Candiru

The Candiru parasitic catfish usually grows to 1 or 2 inches in length, though some specimen measuring nearly 17 inches have also been found in Brazil.

The candiru fish is eel-like and almost translucent, making it near impossible to see them in the murky Amazon waters. It feeds on blood by using its mouth as a slurping apparatus, while rasping the long teeth on its top jaw. It then unhooks its fins and sinks to the bottom of the river to digest its meal.

Candiru is pretty famous thanks to the myth that accredits this species by infecting the genitals of humans – as is said to be addicted to the taste and smell of human urine – however, there is no evidence to prove this fact, but thanks to this interesting myth, they have had their share of fame.

2. Giant Amazon Leech

The Giant Amazon leech can grow up to 18 inches and live up to 20 years and is quite possibly the world’s largest blood sucking leech. They live from the mouth of the Amazon river north to Venezuela and the Guianas.

This green-brown species is a blood-sucking ectoparasite on mammals and feeds by injecting a long proboscis (up to 6 inches in length) into the host’s skin.

Once the leech is attached to the prey, the proboscis then functions much like a straw that starts to suck up the blood at a rate of 0.14mL per minute and up to 15 mL.

1. Sea Lamprey

Sea lamprey is an eel-like type of primitive fish which spends part of its life in marine and part in fresh water. They can reach 20 to 35 inches in length and 10 to 15 pounds in weight.

Sea lampreys are easily recognized by the large mouth, filled with circular rows of teeth that are designed for sucking blood and bodily fluids of other fish.

Sea lampreys attach their mouth to the prey like a vacuum pump, then their sharp teeth and rasping tongue easily damages the prey’s skin and induce blood flow. Larger fish might survive the attack of sea lamprey, but smaller usually dies due to serious wounds or subsequent infections.