by Victoria Salter
"Believe it or not, vampire bats actually exist. It's true! Wild vampire bats are mainly, if not solely, found in South America. However, they do not suck blood, rather, they lap it up like a cat lapping up water.
Recently, there has been a bit of an issue about some people wanting these bats to be "culled" (the "polite" term for "killed off") because of a disease known as rabies. While it is true that the bats can and do carry rabies, research has shown that killing off the bats could actually increase the significance of rabies. Plus, there is an alternative to killing the poor creatures; vaccination.
I can remember reading about how rabies has been eradicated in at least one part of the world by putting out meat laced with rabies vaccine. Animals then ate the meat and, thus, became immune to the disease. Could some sort of rabies vaccine not be put into blood somehow and put out in mass proportions for the vampire bats to feed upon? This would not necessarily have to involve the killing of other animals. Could we not use the blood of animals that are going to die anyway or use blood donations? I know that some of what I said there may sound crazy, but could my ideas please at least be considered?
Also, I have heard that, although they can carry rabies, vampire bats are actually immune to rabies and Ebola. Would it not be more useful to study these bats and their immunity to those diseases in order to help make a potential future without rabies and/or Ebola come sooner?
Vampire bats are not evil and are not nearly as bad as you may think. First of all, they do not normally drain their prey dry. They normally just take enough to sustain themselves (about two tablespoonfuls, or so I think) and then leave. Also, their saliva possesses something that thins the blood out, allowing them and, possibly, other bats to feed. Believe it or not, there is an idea that this could help thin out blood clots and/or help stroke patients.
As well as this, vampire bats will sometimes help other bats by feeding them when they are too ill or injured to get blood by themselves* and adopting orphaned young.
* I read somewhere that vampire bats might sometimes kick out roost-mates who do not do their part, but I still feel that there is no need to "cull" these fascinating creatures. Like I was saying, they can be very good animals and could possibly be of some medical value to people as well."