A new baby vampire bat was discovered in the exhibit on Thursday, Sept. 10, hanging onto Mom. The bat is quite tiny, but completely covered in a thin layer of fur already. It was probably born yesterday or overnight right on exhibit.
Female vampire bats only have one baby each year, so this event is always exciting! Their gestation time (amount of time they are pregnant) is between 6 and 8 months. Last September 5 of 2008 was the first baby of our new vampire bat colony.
We do have three females on exhibit, so it is still possible that the other two females may have babies yet. With our new addition, there are now 9 bats on exhibit.
I tried to take a picture of the baby, but unfortunately the dark cave is not the best place for pictures. In this picture, the baby is on Mom’s back and you can see its pink skin through the light fur. If you come to visit and look for the baby, he could be hard to find. The mom typically carries her baby underneath her and then the other bats in the colony will surround her to protect her baby. This morning I saw one of the other bats helping the mom to groom her new baby.
Although vampire bats have a diet solely of blood, the baby, also known as a pup, will drink milk from its mother for its first two months. Then for the next few months the mom will drink blood and regurgitate it for her baby. Next, the pup is ready to go hunting normally, but it will still stick with mom. When mom finds prey, she will use her sharp teeth (incisors) to slice a small hole and drink blood and then her pup will also drink from the same opening. Only at 9 months will the pup begin to go fend for itself.
Be sure to stop by and look carefully to see if you can find our newest baby born at the zoo!