Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat: Diphylla Ecaudata

Photo of Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat newborn

The hairy-legged vampire bat is a subspecies of the vampire bat and can be found in Central/Southern America. As the name suggests, this bat feeds on the blood of mammals, typically farm animals such as pigs. Habitats for this species are always warm and the bats tend to roost several feet apart from one another.

Learn More: What Do Bats Eat?

Description Of The Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat

Diphylla ecaudata range from reddish-brown to sooty brown in color, commonly referred to as hairy-legged vampire bats. They have an interfemoral membrane that is narrow, hairy, and a pug-nosed snout.

Hairy-legged vampire bats are characterized by the smaller body and ears they typically have versus other vampire bats. They also have 26 teeth in total, more than other species of vampire bats. Hairy-legged vampire bats have upper incisors that are highly modified. The incisors are larger than the canines and are closed against each other to sharpen to a very fine edge continuously. The outer incisors are reduced a great deal. 1Go To Source -“Diphylla ecaudata hairy-legged vampire bat”

Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat Behavior

This bat is primarily a tropical and subtropical forestland inhabitant. Normally, its daytime retreat is a cave that it may share with other bat species, but roosting has also been found in mine tunnels and hollow trees.

In the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, these vampire bats were found to be more solitary than the common vampire bats and did not gather in groups, even when several individuals inhabited a cave. As a result, pools of digested blood do not form, and in the caves they inhabit, there is a slight odor of ammonia. About 35 vampire bats, mostly young females, were in one cave, but only one to three are found in any given cave. These bats are shy, quick to move, and when molested, they quickly take flight.

The blood of warm-blooded vertebrates, mainly birds, including domestic chickens, is the food of diphylla ecaudata. Diphylla ecaudata attacks the legs and the cloacal region of chickens. One bat was observed lying on a chicken’s tail, hanging by its hind legs and biting in the exposed skin’s cloacal region, then lapping up the blood while in an upright position. 2Go To Source -“HAIRY-LEGGED VAMPIRE BAT Diphylla ecaudata Spix 1823”

Reproduction Habits Of Hairy-Legged Vampire Bats

Throughout the year, this species seems to be reproductively active. Females were found to be pregnant from March to November in Mexico and Central America. The number of embryos per female usually is one, but in Chiapas, Mexico, one female captured had contained two full-term embryos.

Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat Habitat

In arid/humid areas of the tropics and subtropics, you will find these bats. They usually inhabit caves, but they can also be found in hollow trees, old wells, mine shafts, and abandoned buildings. In roosting sites, vampire bat colony numbers can range into the thousands.

The sharing of food is another distinctive adaptation of vampire bats.
Without a meal of blood, a vampire bat can only survive about two days, yet they can not be guaranteed to find food every night. This poses a problem, so it will often “beg” another bat for food when a bat fails to find food. To sustain the other colony member, the “host” bat may regurgitate a small amount of blood. 3Go To Source -“Vampire Bat”

Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat Species Range

The Hairy-legged vampire bat is common in Southern Texas, Eastern Mexico, Central America, and South America. Texas seems to be the only place in the United States that this bat has been seen.

This species has been recorded in elevations ranging from sea level to 1,400 m above sea level. 4Go To Source -“Mammalian Species”

Diet Of The Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat

Approximately 4 teaspoons of blood are consumed by vampire bats each day, but evidence suggests that they may consume this amount several times a day. There are usually bites on sleeping animals on the shoulders, neck, horn or ear base, snout, elbows, legs, tail, vulva, and anus. Bats typically bite the ears, nose, and teats of swine.

The animals do not feel pain from the bites because the cut is surgically precise. If the animal being bitten feels the bite, the bat will flee and return to feed once the animal has calmed down. 5Go To Source -“Vampire Bats in Texas: Ecology, Signs, and Managing Damage to Livestock”



  1. Owens, K. 2002. “Diphylla ecaudata” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed January 14, 2021 at
  2. Schmidly, David, and Robert Bradley. “HAIRY-LEGGED VAMPIRE BAT Diphylla Ecaudata Spix 1823.” Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Natural Science Laboratory, Accessed 14 Jan. 2021.
  3. Lamar Unversity. “Vampire Bat.” Lamar.Edu, Lamar University, Accessed 14 Jan. 2021.
  4. Greenhall, Arthur, et al. “Mammalian Species.” Bio-Nica, The American Society Of Mamalogists, 14 Nov. 1984,
  5. Tomeček, John, and Michael Bodenchuk. “Vampire Bats in Texas: Ecology, Signs, and Managing Damage to Livestock.” Texas A&M Agrilife, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Apr. 2017,