Ten Awe-inspiring Facts About Leeches

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1. Leeches are blood sucking worms.

• Leeches are parasitic slimy creatures scientifically categorized as annelids (segmented worms).
• They are hematophagous organisms. It came from the Geek word haima “blood” and phagein “feed”.
• They are hermaphrodites, which posses a male and a female sex organ.
• They have the ability to suck an approximately half teaspoon of blood of warm blooded animals including human.
• They are capable of engulfing blood about five times their body weight.

2. Leeches are mostly predaceous.

• Their senses are particularly attracted to vibrations on water and eventually find their host to attach themselves.
• Though leeches favorite foods are fish eggs there are some leeches which are scavengers. (feeding on dead animals).

3. Leeches are generally nocturnal.

• This behavior of leech keep them stay away from predators (fish, birds, snakes, large aquatic insects) and give them the chance to look for prey.
• Their habitat is Still waters (Eg. lake or pond) mostly on shallow areas. They can also be found under rocks and hiding among plants.

4. Leeches have the ability to hibernate.

• There are seasons that leeches become lazy during dry season and burry themselves in the ground.
• Spring is the best time for them to reproduce giving way for their emergence during swimming season of summer.

5. Leeches can grow up to 18 inches long.
• The Giant Amazon Leech (Haementeria ghillianii) can be as long as 45 cm. long and can live up to 20 years.
• It plays a big contribution on research studies in invertebrae zoology.

6. Leeches possesses natural anesthetics.

• They have saw-like crushing jaw (tripartite) with about hundreds and thousands of sharp teeth and unbelievably cause virtually painless bite and incision of the host’s skin.
• This is due to the biologically active compounds in their secretions.

7. Leeches produces anticoagulants too.

• Their Saliva has numerous kinds of proteins that they inject while piercing the skin.
• It has also produce a natural anticoagulant that promotes vasodilation which make the blood easily flows in their body while sucking steadily and slowly.

8. Leeches are used as a device in modern medicine.

• Leeches are probably known by everyone as nasty blood sucker creatures but believe it or not, they are not dangerous.
• They don’t harm the people seriously as they take in blood, although it is quite bothersome with leeches latching (especially disconcerting on kids).
• In fact, they are of great medical use as a remedy for many chronic illnesses (cure-all property) way back on ancient times until now and it is approved and cleared by Food and Drug Administration like the beneficial use Hirudo medicinalis (medicinal leeches).
• They are use as a medical device in reattachment surgical procedures where in leeches serve as an artificial vein to keeps the blood flowing and in thinning the blood resulting to uninterrupted blood circulation.
• It is also use in skin grafting (in treatment of burns) to help wound healing.

9. Leeches play an important role in food web.

• Eradication of leeches is not possible.
• Leeches are natives thriving in lakes or ponds because they are essential in the food chain cycle of the aquatic environment.
• Leeches feed on insect eggs and larvae, eaten by fish and ducks and used as bait by fishermen.

10. Leeches are with great commercial value.

• Due to the discovery of health benefits of leeches, it earns its value with a great market potential.
• Natural Hirudin which is a peptide found in the salivary glands of leeches make way for its industrialize extraction commercial leech farming.
• Hirudin has a powerful and potent inhibitor property on blood clotting factors.
• It also gave the edge of the production of state-of-art medicine among pharmaceuticals.

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