Vampire Bats and Pop Culture

29 Oct

How did bats get a bad reputation in pop culture? In honor of Halloween we thought we pay tribute to the third most feared animal on the planet. Bats! The fear of bats may have started when Count Dracula and vampire bats (found in Mexico and South America) joined forces in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula.  In this article we will discuss the shape shifting character known as Dracula. Plus explore the myth and fear of vampire bats in twentieth century popular culture.

Vlad the Impaler (1431-1476) was the original “human vampire” and was the first to be called Count Dracula (“son of the dragon”). In 1845-47 serial stories entitled Varney the Vampire written by James Malcolm Rymer toyed vaguely with the fictional vampire character.  However, Stoker solidified the shape shifting human vampire more aggressively in modern culture.

The story of Dracula belongs to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, the gothic novel and invasion literature. Although, Stoker did not invent the vampire he defined its modern form and the novel spawned numerous theatrical, film and television interpretations.

A poll by the television show Animal Planet listed vampire bats as the third-most feared animal on the planet.

58 Responses to “Vampire Bats and Pop Culture”

  1. Comic Relief October 29, 2012 at 12:04 PM #


    Thanks for underling how our perceptions of bats are changing.
    Sorry for the academic take of the video, I wanted to know more about the animal. You won’t hear “all,” but she’s pretty comprehensive (says the non-bat scientist).

  2. Comic Relief October 29, 2012 at 12:06 PM #

    I guess the more we stop attacking bats the more they can concentrate on more appropriate enemies.

  3. Open Book October 29, 2012 at 1:12 PM #

    Thanks CR for the videos.

    It’s funny to see the actual size of a vampire bat. The VB’s can fit into the palm of your hand compared to the gigantic fruit bats used in Bela Lugosi Dracula film. I guess Dracula would not be as intimidating if he shape shifted into a tiny little vampire bat. Hahahaha!

  4. littlebells October 29, 2012 at 1:49 PM #

    I don’t know much about vlad. Why was he considered the first human “vampire”? Did he.drink his victim’s blood?

    • Open Book October 29, 2012 at 2:12 PM #

      Hi LB-

      Great Q: Actually, Bram Stoker loosely based his novel on Vlad the Impaler an actual human being who lived from 1431-1476. There were many fictional stories written about him but something they all have in common “The Impaler” was really into human blood.

    • Open Book October 29, 2012 at 2:18 PM #

      LB- Vlad was considered the worst tyrant in history. Here’s some great info on him.

      • littlebells October 29, 2012 at 9:05 PM #

        ABsolutely fascinating! I knew a little about him, but not to this extent. Now I want to hunt down that book that is recommended and read it.

        • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 6:58 PM #

          ITA LB-It’s very fascinating. Tell me what u think of the book if u find it.

          • ozzie20 October 30, 2012 at 8:26 PM #

            I learnt alot about him through two novels lol! They were both very well researched, though artistic licence was defeinately pushed to extremes when he turned in to a vampire in one of the books. He was a tree for a while…. LMAO! Both were good books though.

            I think I’ll try and track down that recommended book too!

            • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 8:29 PM #


              Did any of the novels have Vlad turn into a bat?

              • ozzie20 October 30, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

                I think so. My favourite of the two alluded to it but I can’t remember if it was actually stated. The tree one I can’t remember but it wouldn’t surprise if he did because well, he was a tree in it for a short while, lol!

                • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

                  The tree is crazy! How did they transition into that? Never mind thats too weird. LOL!!

                  • ozzie20 October 30, 2012 at 9:13 PM #

                    From what I remember he was depressed so he decided to stand in one spot near some trees and stood for so long he became one himself! When he decided to move again he had developed some tolerence to wood. It wouldn’t kill him but it could cause cuts or something like that! It was really wierd. Before he became a vampire it was quite good with the history facts!

  5. Open Book October 29, 2012 at 1:53 PM #

    I think with films like Batman Begins and Twilight. They have helped reshape bats image in popular culture. In Batman Begins bats are turned into heros in Twilight vampires don’t shape shift into bats.

  6. Open Book October 30, 2012 at 6:55 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    • Comic Relief October 30, 2012 at 7:19 PM #

      Hi, everyone. Catching up

      • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 7:24 PM #

        Hi CR!

  7. Open Book October 30, 2012 at 7:03 PM #

    What is your favorite Dracula film?

  8. Open Book October 30, 2012 at 7:05 PM #

    Here’s some factual info. There’s been 200 films made on Count Dracula.

  9. parisienne October 30, 2012 at 7:08 PM #

    Hi OB,

    My favorite “Dracula” film/series is Dark Shadows. the version that was on in the 90’s. Its ok until it gets into all the time travel nonsense and then loses me. I do have the dvd though. I’m glad that Dark Shadows with Depp didn’t do any of the time travel.

    • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 7:12 PM #

      Hi Paris,

      Dark Shadows. Do u have a favorite episode?

  10. parisienne October 30, 2012 at 7:16 PM #

    the first and second one. However, where I think the writers of the series messed up was trying to tie in to sci-fi lores. It wasn’t done properly imo. Can’t mix vampires with time travel.

    My grandma bought me the original soap opera one year for chiristmas (every episode) still have never watched it.

    • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 7:23 PM #

      Yeah, sci-fi and vampire literature don’t mix. LOL!! Perhaps we should write a warning label for those who try.

      • parisienne October 30, 2012 at 7:26 PM #

        I’m multi-tasking right now so I may not answer you right away but I am still here. 🙂

      • parisienne October 30, 2012 at 7:26 PM #

        WARNING: JUST DON’T DO IT! that’s a good label.

        • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

          LOL!! Great label.

  11. parisienne October 30, 2012 at 7:21 PM #


    That episode on vampire bats is informative. I would assume it to be something like a mosquito bite. It is said in the video that Draculan, the anti-coangulant in vampire bats may one day help heart attack and stroke victims. Have you found any scientific research to support that claim?

    • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 7:29 PM #

      Yes, I thought that was interesting too. Here’s some more info on the progress on VB to prevent strokes.

      • parisienne October 30, 2012 at 7:37 PM #

        All the cool research happens in Europe. Ever notice that? 🙂

        Why do you think that “Dracula” and vampire stories in general are loved by the public so much? Given that Vlad the Impaler was a monster I don’t understand why people would want to embrace the lore of a person that was absolutely deplorable.

        Why do you think vampire lore has such an effect on our society and do you see this trend continuing in the future? Do you see Hollywood trying to honestly continue the Twilight Saga given how much negativity is surrounding it right now or do you think that’s just talk trying to gauge public reaction?

        • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 7:42 PM #

          All the cool research happens in Europe. Ever notice that?

          Yes! Hmm! Maybe I should move.

          Give me a moment to answer your other Q.

        • Comic Relief October 30, 2012 at 7:48 PM #

          Is it the sex that keeps people interested?

          I’ve read a few studies now that claim that bats are extremely creative sexually or participate in oral sex. Do you think this is one of the contributing reasons people have continue to find bats provocative in popular culture?

          • Comic Relief October 30, 2012 at 7:50 PM #

            When I was growing up there was this undercurrent that Dracula was some how about sex but today all of these movies really put it in your face.

          • parisienne October 30, 2012 at 7:54 PM #


            That’s an interesting video. 🙂 IMO, I wouldn’t think its just the sex but maybe the romantic lore of vampires? Think about it. Dracula as we know him is always dressed in a suit or well dressed, has money and is mysterious plus he also has a control factor over people. That’s what I think people like.

            • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 8:06 PM #

              Do u think fear and sex is an aphrodisiac for some people? Meaning the fear of bats might arouse people.

              CR- Not all bats perform oral sex? Vampire bats I know they don’t. They are the most feared bat.

              • parisienne October 30, 2012 at 8:19 PM #


                I do think fear and sex is an aphrodisiac. Why? As humans we love to be scared out of our wits and we love sex because sex assures the continuation of the human species. We have to have sex for our survival. God is a very smart Being.

                • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 8:36 PM #

                  IMO it’s the mystery and unknown that people are attracted to. Yet, some people can loose themselves in tricks and games and it no longer becomes about connecting spiritually.

                • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 8:49 PM #

                  It’s really true. Its the thought that matters. I think the greatest aphrodisiac in the world is unconditional love.

        • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 7:55 PM #

          I really think our society and culture have cultivated this impulsive, intellectual disfunction and reasoning mentality. No one wants to take responsibility for their actions. Instead people latch unto the most destructive behavior to distract themselves from their own reality. Does that make sense?

          • parisienne October 30, 2012 at 7:59 PM #

            yes that does. However, I would think that people can find anything to latch onto that is destructive. (war and so on) why paticularly the vampire lore. With shows like True Blood ( which does feature sex because that’s the way they eat) and Twilight that showcases dysfunctional relationships. What do you think would be able to shift public perception onto healtier programming?

            • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 8:19 PM #

              I think women today aren’t encouraged to be intelligent, strong and competitive or to embrace their feminine side. Twilight, and other vampire characters reduce women to objects. They don’t value her as an intellectual equal. I think women today have internalized these negative images and it’s expressed by their attraction to books like Twilight and 50 shades IMO.

          • Comic Relief October 30, 2012 at 8:05 PM #


            Though I want to agree with you regarding Dracula, yes him being dressed up really might make you wonder how he manages to be so persuasive with his night time hunting.

            Paris and OB,

            But lets get real, the entire Twilight series has been about when are Edward and Bella going to get busy!!!

            Even if actual bats are not an influence, even little girls have been persuaded to come to the theatres to see what bases Edward gets to each episode.

            Of course, Bella never really had any objections.

            • parisienne October 30, 2012 at 8:15 PM #

              Of course, Twilight is about sex but I think that pre-twilight vamps also had a mystery to them that could never be explained, they were experts at control. The whole “Look into my eyes” line is associated with Dracula. So its not just sex but also other things. Think about it this way, sex if strictly used for the basis of a relationship gets old after while. That’s why FWB situations rarely last. One person always wants something more than sex.

    • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 7:36 PM #

      The article is kinda long. This is more direct in answering your Q. Paris.

      “To ensure it get its nutritional fill of blood, its saliva contains a substance that stops the blood clotting and helps to keep it flowing.

      Now, doctors in Britain and Europe are carrying out human trials on the drug to see how well it works as a clot-buster to beat ischemic strokes – in which clots interrupt the blood supply to the brain.

      Desmoteplase, the natural agent in vampire bat saliva, is 13,000 times more powerful than the existing treatment and can be given safely for longer. It works by destroying fibrin, the basic material of blood clots.
      Research has shown that the drug could be given up to nine hours after the clot without causing damage to the brain.”

  12. littlebells October 30, 2012 at 7:45 PM #

    Hi everyone,

    Sorry i am late. 😦 I am here but have the energy of a brick. I may not be saying much, but I find all of this very interesting. Thanks OB for a great article.

    • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 7:57 PM #

      Hi LB!

      Hope u are well!

  13. parisienne October 30, 2012 at 7:55 PM #


    How are you?

  14. ozzie20 October 30, 2012 at 8:07 PM #

    Hello all!

    I completely forgot about the time zone change here, doh! I’ll have to try and remember to come an hour earlier until the US changes.

    I don’t mind bats. My cousin works in wildlife conservation and she took care of an injured baby bat for a week or so. It was so cute, no bigger than a thumb! Unfortunately it died. 😦

    • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 8:23 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

      That’s sad about the bat. People like your cousin are amazing people. I would love to volunteer at a wildlife conservation.

      • ozzie20 October 30, 2012 at 8:36 PM #

        Given half the chance I know she’d be off to one in Africa! But for the moment it’s just the UK for her. We still get some funny stories though!

  15. Comic Relief October 30, 2012 at 8:11 PM #

    Sorry I can’t stay, I’m getting sicker as I sit here.
    Great article OB would love to have explored it further. Talk to everyone later.

    • parisienne October 30, 2012 at 8:16 PM #


      I hope you feel better. 🙂

      • ozzie20 October 30, 2012 at 8:37 PM #

        Aww, I hope you get better soon CR!

  16. parisienne October 30, 2012 at 8:23 PM #


    I’m going to go for the evening. OB, great article! Stay well and safe everyone (depending on where you are)

    • Open Book October 30, 2012 at 8:32 PM #

      CR & Paris,

      Thanks for coming. I’m glad u liked the article and stay safe.

      • ozzie20 October 30, 2012 at 8:43 PM #

        Bye Paris! Hope you’re safe too!

  17. Open Book October 30, 2012 at 8:56 PM #


    I’m going to go for the night. Thanks for the great discussion as always. TC!!

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