It is true that Vampires like Dracula aren’t real, and are resigned to the world of fiction. However, there are plenty of animals in the world that drink blood.
Drinking blood for sustenance is known as hematophagy in the animal kingdom, and for some animals, it is something they need to do regularly to survive.
Although it’s a questionable form of nutrients for us humans, blood is packed with proteins and lipids, which makes it an especially easy way to get all of the nutrients they need to survive, although it’s very rare that blood makes up the entirety of their diet.
So, if you want to learn more about some of the incredible animals in the wild that drink blood, then read onwards, and we’ll provide you with all of the details you would want to know about these bloodsucking creatures.
You might already be aware of some of the animals, whilst some of the inclusions on this list will definitely come as a surprise. So what are you waiting for, scroll down the list now!
Examples Of Animals That Drink Blood
Arguably one of the most well-known blood-sucking animals in the entire world, the Mosquito is a part of the Culicidae family, but what might surprise some people is that only the female Mosquitos are the culprits for the bloodsucking antics, whilst both of the sexes will feast on nectar and sugar in order to get the energy they need to live.
However, since the females of the species need additional proteins and lipids in order to help produce and lay their eggs, then the females will often seek animals or people to drink blood from.
A mosquito bite works by injecting a form of saliva with anticoagulant properties into the animal (see also: Animals That Work Together)or person it’s drinking blood from, which helps to prevent any of the blood from clotting as they feast!
Whilst a Mosquito bite will only cause minimal discomfort to a human, the main problem is the diseases that can be transferred through their bite, which can include things like the Zika virus, or even Malaria!
As a member of the Siphonaptera family, these tiny creatures are flightless but are able to fling themselves up to 200 times their body length with each leap.
They manage to survive simply by leaping from host to host and drinking their blood, and they’re also not particularly fussy about their target either, and cats, dogs, rabbits, rats, and even squirrels are all potential food sources in the eyes of a flea.
Fleas benefit massively from their narrow, almost flattened shape which allows them to burrow through fur quickly, allowing them to reach the skin and begin drinking blood quickly, and as any pet owner that has had to deal with pets will tell you, they’re also seriously hard to get rid of too!
The worst thing about fleas is that they also lay eggs (see also: Monotremes And Marsupials, Do They Lay Eggs?)on their hosts, and a new colony of fleas will form quickly once the eggs fall off the host and into the home the pet lives in.
Another familiar name amongst the bloodsucking creatures is the Leech, which can commonly be found in many freshwater habitats, so you should always be careful when making your way through any lakes, marshes, or ponds, but they can also be found in marine and land environments too, especially with 79 of the 650 species’ of Leech living in the United States!
Although not every Leech feeds in the same way, with some not even feeding off of live hosts, when you mention the word “leech” to someone, the likelihood is that they’ll think of the blood-sucking leech.
Looking like a dark-colored worm, leeches will attach themselves to a host thanks to the suction and mucus they produce, where they then begin to inject the host with the anticoagulant hirudin to ensure that the blood flows without clotting.
Leeches don’t tend to harm their hosts, and once they have finished filling up on blood from the host, they will simply fall off, but this can take a few hours.
Leeches have also had a huge part to play in medicine too, as they’ve been used as a way of bloodletting for hundreds of years!
4. Common Vampire Bat
Vampires are just fictional creatures, right? Well, the Desmodus Rotundus begs to differ, and these bats are definitely the stuff of nightmares.
These bats tend to feast on the blood of various forms of livestock, these include things such as pigs (see also: 6 Types Of Pigs That You Need To Know About)and horses, and throughout their nights of hunting, they can sometimes drink the blood from cattle for up to 30 minutes before becoming full.
Unlike fictional vampires, Vampire Bats don’t actually suck the blood, instead, their teeth allow them to draw blood from the skin, and they then lap it up using their tongue, which has anticoagulant properties in order to prevent the blood from clotting, as well as special groves that help to pick the blood up off the skin.
These animals can become extremely protective over their dinner, so they will often be seen fending off other bats trying to drink from their chosen animal.
Much like fictional vampires, these bats also tend to live in dark and humid places, and will live in caves, trees, or even spooky abandoned buildings too!
Blood is the only food source for this animal, so even if it might be a terrible source of nutrition for other blood-drinking animals, these bats make it work.
Another common bloodsucking culprit, these tiny little creatures can range from between an eighth to five-eighths of an inch, and only increase inside when they’ve filled up on blood.
These creatures also aren’t fussy about the creatures that they feast on either, ranging from things such as reptiles, dogs, birds, and even humans too.
Much like Vampire Bats, Ticks feast entirely upon blood, and manage to make their way from host to host by “questing” which involves them clinging to leaves or grass and jumping to a host animal (see also: Animals That Jump)when they brush past!
Ticks have developed an incredible saliva that aids them in being able to drink blood, as their saliva is full of helpful proteins which essentially soothe the bite area, which often means the host won’t even know that they’ve been bitten.
Ticks will often stay on a host for a full week before they get their fill of blood, where they will then drop off and begin to find a new host.
Although they won’t kill the host purely through their blood-drinking habits, they are known to carry harmful diseases, such as Lyme disease, so you definitely don’t want to find a Tick drinking your blood.
6. Bed Bugs
Known as a pest all over the world, the diet of bed bugs consists purely of blood.
These insects have certain parts of their mouth which are able to cut through skin easily before injecting anticoagulants and painkillers to help prevent the blood from clotting and to prevent the host from feeling the bites.
Although the host won’t feel it at first, it will soon become apparent that there has been a bed bug bite, with itchiness and swelling starting, as well as redness around the bite too.
Plus, since bed bugs tend to make their home in, as the name would suggest, beds and mattresses, it means that most people are bitten by bed bugs during their sleep, which allows the bed bugs to fill up on blood each night!
Transported through fabrics, bed bugs spread extremely easily, which is part of what makes them so annoying for people.
That’s right, everyone’s favorite nectar-drinking insects are also particularly partial to a drop of blood every so often, and although we tend to think of Butterflies as innocent and beautiful insects that don’t harm anybody, the reality is that they will also drink blood, as well as sweat and tears too, allow us to explain…
Whilst Butterflies will predominantly seek Nectar from flowers in order to sustain themselves, they have also been observed using their proboscis to drink sweat, blood, tears, and other liquids that can be found from things such as rotten fruit, feces, and excrement, and even rotting corpses too.
To us, this might sound disgusting, but these liquids all contain essential nutrients to an animal like the Butterfly, including things such as sodium, amino acids, and minerals too, all of which will help the Butterfly to thrive, and since the only way they can consume nutrients is by drinking through their proboscis, then their choice of nutrients source does become slightly more limited.
So as you can see, there is a wide variety of animals that drink blood as part of their diet, and although some of them are well-known bloodsuckers, sometimes some animals like Butterflies can be surprising bloodsuckers too!