animals that drink blood

Animals That Drink Blood

Written by: Annemarie Dutton
Last updated on:

Although vampires are famous for drinking blood, some animals do it too. Such creatures exist apart from fantasy TV shows. It’s their way of feeding themselves. They are called hematophagous or animals that are naturally bloodthirsty. This post will explore the animals that live by drinking blood. 

What is Hematophagy?

Hematophagy is an invertebrate feeding behavior. There are also insects, arachnids, mammals, and fish that share this characteristic. Animals that have blood-eating habits are hematophagous creatures. Some animals that drink blood could pose a health risk to humans. 

What Animals Drink Blood?

Oxpecker Birds

Oxpecker is an African and endemic bird. These are the small birds you’d see on top of hippos or rhinos. They are 7 to 9 inches tall and are shades of cream and murky gray. 

Blood is one of the food sources of Oxpecker birds. They usually peck the wounds of their prey to drink the blood while eating the flesh. Aside from blood, they also eat flies, ticks, and maggots.

Vampire Finch 

Vampire Finch is another type of bird usually found on Galapagos Island. It is located in the western part of Northern South America. Just like the Oxpecker birds, the Vampire Finch also drinks blood when it cannot find solid food.

These types of birds usually eat seeds and insects. However, they also prey on booby birds such as tropical seabirds which are willing to be a food source for Vampire Finches.

Mosquitos

Mosquitos are one of the most popular bloodthirsty animals. But did you know that only female mosquitos drink blood? They need human blood to develop their eggs and it is necessary for their reproductive system.

Mosquito bites leave an itchy bump on human skin which is a reaction to the mosquito’s saliva. Mosquitos are one of the deadliest animals because they can cause humans serious diseases. 

They can cause dengue, malaria, yellow fever, and filariasis, which can all lead to death if not treated immediately.

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Bedbugs

The bedbug is commonly called the perfect parasite. These little insects feed themselves during nighttime when humans are fast asleep. If you’re familiar with the rhyme, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite,” then you know bedbugs drink human blood.

Their bites are painless. Thanks to their natural anesthetizing agent, they can prey upon humans without being harmed. However, the bite causes itchiness.

The good news is that bedbugs, unlike mosquitos,  will not cause diseases. The bad news is that they are hard to eliminate. You will need a professional exterminator if you have bedbugs in your home.

Fleas

Fleas are another benign and deadly insect. Have you ever heard of the Bubonic plague in Europe? Most people and scientists believed that fleas contributed to their rapid transmission.

When infected rats died, fleas resorted to drinking human blood to survive which made the transmission even faster. Almost a quarter of Europe’s population died.

Fleas are also a problem for most dog owners, especially Fido dogs. These insects can cause serious health problems for dogs, which are hard to cure.

Leeches

Leeches are aquatic predatory parasites. They are harmless unless they suck too much blood from their host. 

These segmented parasites can be awful-looking. But they do not transmit diseases as fleas and mosquitos do. In fact, they have been used by doctors for medicinal purposes since the 19th century.

Today, leeches are used to restore blood flow to humans’ damaged veins. They drink blood while benefiting their host. They are one-of-a-kind bloodthirsty animals whose appearance belies their usefulness!

Lampreys

Lampreys are primitive eel-looking animals that live underwater. They use their jawless and rounded mouth to catch fish. Once they do so, they’ll first find a place to settle and start drinking blood and eating tissue using their teeth and sucking abilities. Lampreys spend weeks eating just one fish.  The good news is that they do not usually attack humans.

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Vampire Bats

Vampire bats are the only mammals that rely on blood as their sole food source. They target birds and reptiles, but humans are also one of their prey. There are three species of vampire bats. They are the common vampire bat, the hairy-legged one, and the white-winged one.

Regardless of their type, their preying habits are the same. First, they will use their sharp teeth to cut the skin of their prey. After that, they drink the blood from the wound. 

These bats share their hard work with those other hungry bats.

Are Animals that Drink Blood Dangerous?

Most animals drink blood from other animals too. Some naturally prey upon humans for blood. Mosquitos and fleas could be harmful, but leeches are helpful to the medical industry. 

Now that you have the list of the animals that drink blood, please inform others. You can now save yourself and other animals from these bloodthirsty predators.

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