The vampires of folklore are similar in some respects, yet very different in most ways. They are a type of quasi-physical bloodsucking ghost. They seldom shapeshift, and if they do, bats are one of the least common animals for them to turn into. Folklore vampires were humans at one time, but they died. After death, they rise from their graves in some manner (folklore differs on whether they rise as ghosts or physically dig themselves out) and feed on the living. Each morning they must return to their graves.
Understandably, cryptozoologists have practically no interest in vampires. Cryptozoology is about looking for new types of animal. Not only is a vampire just a modified human rather than a separate species, it is also rather supernatural, a further disqualification. The usual type of folklore vampire receives almost no attention in cryptozoology.
However, there is another category of beings that you could call vampires, and these beings do receive a great deal of attention from cryptozoologists. These are the vampire animals and plants, creatures like the chupacabra and the giant vampire bat. There are countless animals and plants, including known species as well as cryptids, that have been attributed with the ability to feed on blood. Leeches, mosquitoes and vampire bats are all examples of creatures accepted by mainstream science that drink blood. There are also many real animals that have often been falsely attributed with bloodsucking habits by folklore, most notably the house cat.
One vampire animal is the "death bird" of Ethiopia. Actually described as bats by those who report them, these creatures are much larger than the three known species of vampire bat, which all reside in North or South America. There are not supposed to be any vampire bats in Africa, Asia or Europe, thus if this animal were confirmed it would be a new species.
Ethiopian "death birds" are described as having wingspans of about a foot, twice as big as the common vampire bat. It has been suggested that their blood-drinking habits are folklore, and that the bats are actually contaminating the water supply with their excrement, spreading an infection called Weil's disease. This illness causes hemmorages to break out on the skin, which look like bites to those who don't know the facts about this disease.
Another reputed vampire creature is the mamba mutu, a kind of blood-sucking, brain-eating mermaid or reptoid from Lake Tanganyika in Africa. Cryptozoologists think these reports could represent freshwater manatees or even some kind of otter-beast like the doyarchu.
Several blood-drinking trees are reported from around the world. The man-eating tree of Madagascar is supposed to look like a big pineapple and exude a drugged liquid that is addictive. Once a victim goes far enough inside it, it closes and squeezes all juices out of the victim. Further investigation seems to discount these stories, suggesting instead that the tree exudes a poisonous gas that causes animals to die at its base. In any case, either variety of death tree is presently unrecognized by science. The yate-veo tree of Central America is supposed to impale its victims on sharp spikes and then absorb the blood through its trunk, and the Nicaraguan dog-eating tree is supposed to entangle its victims with sticky vines and then suck all their blood out within five minutes.
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Godfrey, Linda S., Hendricks, Richard D., Moran, Mark, ed. & Sceurman, Mark, ed. Weird Wisconsin: Your Travel Guide to Wisconsin's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. New York: Sterling, 2005. Page 102
Hall, Jamie. Vampire Cats in Folklore and Mythology
Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Pages 45, 67, 102-105, 152, 172, 281, 318-319, 413, 495, 498
Russo, Arlene. Vampire Nation.
Shuker, Karl. The Beasts That Hide From Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals. New York: Paraview Press, 2003. Pages 95-126, 261
Steiger, Brad. Out of the Dark: The Complete Guide to Beings from Beyond. New York: Kensington Books, 2001. Pages 103-130
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