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Vampires can turn into animals, or animals can even be vampires, as was the case in the film Dracula’s Dog.


(pop culture)

The vampire’s relationship to the animal kingdom is manifested in its ability to achieve transformation into various animal shapes; its command over the animal kingdom, especially the rat, the owl, the bat, the moth, the fox, and the wolf; and to a lesser extent its prey upon animals for food. Also, on rare occasions, animal vampires have been reported.

Animals in Vampire Folklore: In the older folklore, the vampire’s command of animals or the ability to transform into animals was a minimal element at best. However, the vampire was often associated with other creatures, such as werewolves, who were defined by their ability to transform themselves. Among the vampires who did change into animals were the chiang-shih vampires of China, who could transform into wolves.

More importantly, the vampire, especially in western Europe, saw the animal world as a food supply and would often attack a village’s cattle herd and suck the animals’ blood. Sudden, unexpected, and unexplained deaths of cattle would often be attributed to vampires. For example, Agnes Murgoci noted that one of the first tests in determining if a recently deceased man had become a vampire would be the sudden death of his livestock. Sir James Frazer observed that in Bulgaria, where the cattle suffered from frequent vampire attacks, people treated such attacks by having their herds pass between two bonfires constructed at a nearby crossroads known to be frequented by wolves. Afterward, the coals from the bonfires were used to relight the fires in the village. In Japan, the vampire kappa lived at the water’s edge and would attack cows and horses and try to drag them into the water.

A few animals, particularly cats and horses, were also believed to have a special relationship to vampires. It was thought in many Eastern European countries that if one allowed an animal such as a cat to jump over the corpse of a dead person prior to burial, the person would return as a vampire. (This belief emphasized the necessity of the deceased’s loved ones to properly mourn, prepare, and care for the body.) The horse, on the other hand, was frequently used to locate a vampire. Brought to the graveyard, the horse would be led around various graves in the belief that it would hesitate and refuse to cross over the body of a vampire.

Dracula’s Animals: Dracula‘s command of the animal kingdom appeared quite early in Bram Stoker‘s novel. In the first chapter of Dracula (1897), even before Jonathan Harker arrived at Castle Dracula, the carriage he was traveling in was suddenly surrounded by an intimidating ring of wolves. Just as suddenly, the driver (later shown to be Dracula in disguise) dismissed the wolves with a wave of his arm. After he arrived at the castle and began to familiarize himself with the Count, Harker noticed the howling of the wolves. Dracula then spoke one of his most memorable lines: “Listen to them—the children of the night. What music they make.” Later, in London, while Dracula was continuing his attack upon Lucy Westenra, he called Bersicker, a wolf from the local zoo, to his aid. Bersicker assisted Dracula by breaking the window at the Westenra home to give Dracula a means of entrance.

Abraham Van Helsing warned the men who would finally track Dracula and kill him that Dracula could not only alter the weather, but that he also could “command the meaner things; the rat, and the owl, and the bat—the moth, and the fox, and the wolf.” The men discovered the truth of his words for themselves when they broke into Dracula’s residence, Carfax, and were suddenly set upon by thousands of rats.

Transformation: Stoker first hinted at Dracula’s ability to transform himself into animal form when the imprisoned Harker looked out of his window to see Dracula crawling down the castle wall. “What manner of man is this, or what manner of creature is it in the semblance of man?” Harker wondered (chapter 3). Dracula traveled to England aboard a ship, the Demeter, which he caused to be wrecked upon the shore at Whitby. Dracula escaped the wreckage in the form of a dog. Through the rest of the novel Dracula made few appearances, however, he constantly hovered in the background in the form of a bat. Observed outside of R. N. Renfield‘s window at the asylum, Dr. John Seward noted the strange behavior of a large bat. “Bats usually wheel and flit about, but this one seemed to go straight on, as if it knew where it was bound for or had some intention of its own” (chapter 11).

Stoker’s characters were, of course, familiar with the vampire bats of Central and South America and understood the vampire’s close association with the bat. At one point Seward examined one of the children bitten by Lucy who had been admitted to a hospital. The doctor attending the boy hypothesized that the wounds on his neck were caused by a bat. “‘Out of so many harmless ones,’ he said, ‘there may be some wild specimen from the south of a more malignant species. Some sailor may have brought one home, and it managed to escape; or even from some Zoological Gardens a young one may have got loose, or one be bred there from a vampire’” (chapter 15).

Animals and the Contemporary Vampire Myth: While there has been, as a whole, less attention paid to animals in the Dracula movies and stage plays, the command of animals is an essential element in the alteration of the plot in the first of the Dracula movies, Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens. Building upon Dracula’s command of the rats that so bedeviled Van Helsing and the men as they entered Carfax, Graf Orlock, the Dracula character in Nosferatu commanded plague-bearing rats. He arrived at Bremen with the rats, and the pestilence that accompanied them was a sign of the vampire’s presence. The death of the vampire brought an end to the plague.

The vampire’s ability to transform into different forms, especially that of a bat, has remained an essential element to most modern vampire movies and novels. The improvement of special effects in movies has allowed for more lifelike transformations to be depicted. Special effects in the recent Bram Stoker’s Dracula were among the movie’s more impressive features. There has been a noticeable trend, however, to strip the vampire of its less believable qualities. Both Anne Rice and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, for example, have denied their vampires the ability to transform themselves out of human shape, though they retain other supernatural abilities.

During the last generation, as the vampire became the hero or at least the sympathetic figure with whom the reader identified, the question of the vampire feeding off of humans rose to the fore. If a vampire renounces the taking of blood from human victims, there are few nutritional options remaining: purchasing blood from various sources, finding willing donors, artificial blood substitutes, or animals. Animals were the most frequently chosen objects, and novels frequently include reflections on the adequacy of animal blood. In Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, Louis was unable to bring himself to attack a human for the first four years of his vampiric existence and lived off the blood of rats and other animals.

Animal Vampires: On occasion, quite apart from stories of vampires changing into animal forms, stories of vampire animals have surfaced. As early as 1810, stories came from the borderland between England and Scotland of sheep, sometimes as many as 10 a night, having their jugular vein cut and their blood drained. The best known incident of a similar occurrence, reported by Charles Fort, concerned a rash of sheep killings near Caven, Ireland, in 1874. Some 42 instances of sheep having their throats cut and blood drained (but no flesh consumed) had been noted. Near the dead sheep, footprints of a dog-like animal were found. Finally a dog, seemingly the offending animal, was shot. At that point the affair should have ended. However, the sheep kept dying and more dogs were shot. Then reports began to come in from Limerick, more than 100 miles away. Accounts ended in both communities without any final resolution. In 1905, a similar spat of sheep killings occurred in England near Badminton in Gloucester. Such incidents have become part of the UFO lore of the last generation in North America. Another famous event involving possible animal vampires was the cutting of the throat of Snippy the horse in Colorado in September 1967.

Several novels have featured animal vampires, the most famous being Ken Johnson’s Hounds of Dracula (1977) (also released as Dracula’s Dog), that was made into the movie, Zoltan: Hound of Dracula. As a whole, however, animals, overwhelmingly dogs, such as were seen in the 2007 movie I Am Legend, have played secondary and supportive roles in vampire novels and movies. Youthful vampire readers may be familiar with the vampire rabbit Bunnicula, the subject of a host of books by James Howe, and the vampire duck, Count Duckula, star of an animated television series and a Marvel comic book. Both Bunnicula and Count Duckula were vegetarians.

The popularity of the vampire in the popular culture has led to attempts to identify animals which, like vampire bats, leeches, and mosquitoes, have vampirelike characteristics. The lists include numerous insects who live partly on blood. Thus, the discovery of a new blood-sucking fish in the Amazon in 2005 made headlines. The new fish is closely related to the candiru, a previously known parasitic, blood-sucking species of catfish that burrows into the gills of other fish and after attaching itself with spines, sucks its blood. The most famous new species with vampirelike qualities is the illusive chupacabra, that has been frequently reported since the 1990s but whose existence is still very much in doubt.


Fort, Charles. Lo!. London: V. Gollancz, 1931. 351 pp. Rept. New York: Ace Books, 1931, 1941.
Johnson, Ken. Hounds of Dracula. New York: New American Library, 1977. Reprinted as Zoltan: Hound of Dracula. London: Everest Books, 1977. Reprinted as Dracula’s Dog. New York: New American Library, 1977.
Keel, John A. Strange Creatures from Time and Space. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications, 1970.
Schutt, Bill. Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures. New York: Harmony Books, 2008.

Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat Fan Club see Vampire Fandom: United States

The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



one of the two main groups of living things (the other is plants).

All animals are heterotrophic organisms, that is, they feed on ready organic compounds and are unable to assimilate inorganic matter. Among the unicellular organisms there are forms (for example, Euglena) that seem to be transitional in type of metabolism between the animals and the plants, combining heterotrophic and autotrophic metabolism. Active locomotion is characteristic of many animals; some animals (for example, squids, dolphins, cheetahs, martens) are able to move swiftly in water, on land, or in the air.

Animals are divided into two main groups, with different levels of organization: the protozoans (sarcodinians, flagellates, sporozoans, cnidosporidians, infusorians) are unicellular organisms; all other animals are multicellular. The cells that make up their body are qualitatively (morphologically and physiologically) differentiated and form various tissues and organs. As the organic world evolved, the structure and functions of animals became increasingly complex, and locomotor, digestive, excretory and genital, respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems and sense organs appeared. Adaptations arose to maintain biochemical homeostasis. Special, complex patterns of behavior also developed (for example, the courting dances and games of insects, birds, and mammals).

For purposes of comparative study, both extant and extinct animals are classified in a system from lower animals to higher, based on the findings of embryology, paleontology, comparative anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. There are about 1.5 million known living animal species. Various taxonomists count from 10 to 33 animal phyla. There are 16 generally recognized phyla: Protozoa, Porifera, Archaeocyatha (extinct), Coelenterata, the lower worms, Mollusca, Arthropoda, Prosopygia, Camptozoa, Prodaxonia, Brachiopoda, Pogonophora, Echinodermata, Chaetognatha, Hemichordata, and Chordata (which includes subphylum Vertebrata). A substantial number of the above phyla are found mainly in the seas. The arthropods and annelids exceed all the other animal groups in the number of known species (over 1 million).

Zoology and many of its specialized fields, such as arachnology, helminthology, ichthyology, ornithology, protistology, and entomology, are engaged in the study of animals.

Animals play an important part in the life of man. They serve as sources of food and industrial raw materials, and they are used for work. The rapacious extermination of wild animals has led to the total or partial obliteration of many species, including the dodo, the passenger pigeon, the royal albatross, the white oryx, Steller’s sea cow, and the bison.

The conservation of nature includes the preservation of the natural landscapes that animals need to exist. The establishment of sanctuaries, national parks, and other protected areas enables species of useful animals to survive and reproduce.

Among the animal pests, some are parasites of domestic animals. Others are transmitters of the causative agents of various diseases (for example, the housefly transmits the causative agents of influenza, tuberculosis, dysentery, typhoid fever, and poliomyelitis; fleas transmit the causative agents of plague; and ticks, those of various encephalitides). Still others are forest, cultivated plant, and food pests (for example, fruit moths, locusts, and various rodents). A final group attacks structures (for example, termites and certain beetles). Study of the various aspects of animal life can help to modify the animal and plant worlds in a planned manner, a matter of particular significance in the efforts to solve the problems connected with the transformation of nature.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Animals such as cats and dogs apparently have dreams, too, just like people; animals are also a theme in many people’s dreams.

What does it mean when you dream about animals?

The observation of animal sleep patterns has long been of interest, dating as far back as 44 B.C.E., when the Roman natural philosopher Lucretius described “the twitching movements of dogs sleeping upon the hearth” (Hobson, p. 151—see Sources). However, it was during the 1950s that research into the sleep patterns of animals really peaked: first with the discovery by William Dement, that cats exhibit the phase of sleep called rapid eye movement (REM), followed by the experiments of two Frenchmen, neurosurgeon Michel Jouvet and his co-worker, the neurologist Francois Michel. Jouvet and Michel observed that a sleeping cat, devoid of motor output or movement, still exhibits an activated EEG, which means that while an animal is asleep, its mind is awake. Jouvet’s discovery led to the general understanding that during REM sleep “the body’s muscles are actively inhibited.” In essence, “we would act out our dreams were it not for this inhibitory suppression of motor output” (Hobson, p. 150—see Sources). Further, because it has been found humans experience the most active dreaming during REM sleep, this research may indicate that animals do dream, although it is, of course, impossible to say for sure because of the communication barrier.

It has been suggested that when animals dream, they are focused on the types of things they usually do in their waking state. For example, animals that use their noses a lot, such as dogs, have dreams with a significant olfactory component.

There was one behavioral study that showed that monkeys have visual dreams. Some monkeys were taught to respond to visual stimuli by pressing a button. Later, when they were sleeping, they made hand motions as if they were pressing buttons, suggesting that they were seeing something. To add further credence, in a separate study, a gorilla who had been taught sign language put together two signs to form the combined term sleep pictures, presumably a reference to the visual components of dreams.

Again, in an experiment on cats, portions of the brainstem responsible for muscle inhibition during REM sleep were damaged. These cats entered REM sleep, and rather than lying quietly with their eyes moving, they stood up, walked around, and chased imaginary creatures, as if they were acting out their dreams without waking up.

Such findings, as well as our everyday observations of household pets that growl and make movements in their sleep, make it almost certain that animals dream in much the same way that we dream. The implications of this conclusion, however, tend to undermine certain dream theories, such as Sigmund Freud‘s notion that the sole purpose of dreams is to allow us to act out socially unacceptable urges—an idea clearly inapplicable to animals.

What does it mean when you dream about animals?

The symbolism of animals is highly complex, as different creatures have been used to represent a variety of different notions. A proper interpretation also depends on one’s personal associations with animals. Generically, animals symbolize the physical, instinctual, “animal” self, and wild dream beasts that one cannot specifically identify usually represent this aspect of the self (or “beastlike” people in one’s environment). One should be careful about this generalization, however, because certain other, more specific animals (e.g., birds) can symbolize precisely the opposite (e.g., the higher self or the soul).

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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