Can Bats be Sexy?
A guest post by Nina Croft
Most speculative fiction has some base in myths and legends, and vampires are certainly no different. But writers have a tendency to take what we want from the myths and disregard what we don't require (and make up a few bits unique entirely to us at the same time).
One of the biggest myths surrounding vampires is the whole bat thing. Vampires and bats just go together. Yet while I've written quite a few vampire stories, I've largely ignored the whole bat connection. Which is odd, because I love bats—they're fascinating creatures. My tutor in my first year at University was actually one of the world's experts in bats, and he passed some of his enthusiasm on to me.
But we demand a certain level of hotness from our vampire heroes, and can bats really be sexy?
So let's take a look at bats and their habits.
There are a number of species known as 'vampire bats'. The most common is Desmodus rotundus, which is found in Mexico and parts of central and South America. Spanish explorers first discovered these blood-drinking bats in the sixteenth century, but they weren't called vampires back then. In fact that name derived from the vampire myth not the other way around.
Bats have been associated with the supernatural for a long time, but it was Bram Stoker's, Dracula, who first brought bats and vampires together in the public's eyes. Stoker was also the first to suggest that vampires could shape shift into actual bats—Count Dracula had a habit of disguising himself this way and flapping at windows.
Unlike vampires (who often turn their noses up at furry food) bats feed mostly on the blood of livestock, though they have been known to have a nibble on the odd sleeping human.
Like vampires, they are creatures of the night. They have really good hearing so they can tell when an animal is asleep, and they use infrared radiation to locate blood hotspots on their prey. Once a likely victim is spotted, they land close by and approach on foot. (They are the only bats that can move around easily on land). Up close, they use heat-detecting molecules on their noses to hone in on the blood supply.
If the prey is furry, the bat uses its teeth like a barber's blade to shave away the hairs (maybe this could come in useful if your vampire likes to munch on the odd hairy werewolf). Then it will open the vein with its razor sharp upper incisors. Once the bat has found a vein it can drink up to half its body weight—which isn't actually very much.
They don't suck the blood, but lap it up like a cat drinks cream (I actually like this idea, and I might find my vampires lapping rather than sucking in future!) Their saliva contains an enzyme which acts as an anticoagulant, which prevents the blood drying up so they can lap it for longer (called 'draculin' the enzyme is being researched for use in dissolving blood clots in humans.)
And of course, during the day, bats sleep, though not in coffins. They hang upside down, somewhere away from the sunlight (an image of Keifer Sutherland pops to mind—hanging upside down in a cave in The Lost Boys—I loved that film) and wait for night to fall.
Rico the vampire hero of my recent Sci-fi release, Break Out, is super-cool (when he's not being sizzlingly hot) and I can't see him flapping about or hanging around upside down. But I'm definitely thinking my next vampire might lap up his blood and shave his victims—in fact, I might even go the whole way and have him a bat-shifter.
So what do you think—can bats really be sexy?
About the Author:
Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.Nina’s writing mixes romance with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.