What do you call animals that suck blood?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

Animals that feed on blood are commonly referred to as blood-sucking animals or hematophagous animals. These creatures have evolved specialized adaptations to obtain their nourishment from the blood of other animals. While leeches are perhaps the most well-known blood-sucking animals, there are several others that exhibit this feeding behavior.

Mosquitoes are one of the most notorious blood-suckers. These tiny insects have a proboscis that they use to pierce the skin of their host and suck up blood. They are attracted to the warmth and carbon dioxide emitted by animals, including humans. Female mosquitoes require the nutrients found in blood to produce viable eggs, while males feed on plant nectar. Mosquitoes are not only annoying but also pose a threat as they can transmit diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus.

Ticks are another group of blood-sucking animals that are commonly encountered in outdoor environments. These arachnids latch onto their hosts, often mammals or birds, and feed on their blood. Ticks are known vectors for various diseases, such as Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis. Their ability to transmit diseases makes them a concern for both humans and animals.

Vampire bats, found mainly in Central and South America, are the only mammals known to feed exclusively on blood. These bats have razor-sharp teeth that they use to make a small incision in the skin of their prey, typically livestock or other mammals, and lap up the blood that flows. Contrary to popular belief, vampire bats do not drain large amounts of blood from their victims and rarely cause significant harm. However, they can transmit diseases such as rabies.

Bed bugs and lice are insects that also fall into the category of blood-sucking animals. Bed bugs are primarily nocturnal and feed on the blood of humans or other warm-blooded animals while they sleep. Lice, on the other hand, infest the hair and feathers of mammals and birds, feeding on their blood. Both bed bugs and lice can cause discomfort and irritation, and their presence often requires professional pest control measures to eradicate.

Other blood-sucking insects include fleas, sandflies, and horseflies. These insects have specialized mouthparts that enable them to pierce the skin and extract blood from their hosts. Fleas are commonly found on domestic pets and can transmit diseases such as plague and typhus. Sandflies are known for spreading diseases like leishmaniasis, while horseflies are known for their painful bites.

Lastly, the lamprey fish is a unique example of a blood-sucking animal found in freshwater and coastal marine environments. Lampreys have a circular, sucker-like mouth filled with sharp teeth, which they use to attach themselves to larger fish and feed on their blood and tissues. They are considered parasites as they derive their sustenance from their host without killing them.

Animals that feed on blood are known as blood-sucking animals or hematophagous animals. This diverse group includes leeches, mosquitoes, ticks, vampire bats, bed bugs, lice, and various other insects and the lamprey fish. While some of these creatures can cause discomfort or transmit diseases, it is important to note that not all blood-sucking animals pose a significant threat to humans or their hosts.