Leeches | Facts & Information

# Leeches | Facts & Information

Leeches | Discover Fascinating Facts and Information About Leeches

Feeding leeches

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Leeches are fascinating and surprising creatures that provoke different opinions among people. For some, they are unpleasant and disgusting insects, while for others, leeches are beneficial for health and have therapeutic value. In this article, we will explore these creatures more closely and discover interesting information about them.

Leeches are invertebrates belonging to the class Hirudinea and can be found in many parts of the world. They can live in fresh, salt, and even moist water. Although there is a wide variety of leech species, the most well-known and studied are those that feed on the blood of other animals.

One fascinating aspect of leeches is how they feed. They have a specialized mouthpiece in the form of a sucker that allows them to attach to the skin of another animal. Once attached, leeches release an anticoagulant substance called hirudin, which prevents the host's blood from coagulating and facilitates their feeding. Additionally, during feeding, leeches inject other anesthetic substances to avoid detection by the host.

Leeches have been used in medicine for centuries. The blood of leeches contains enzymes and biologically active substances that help reduce inflammation, prevent the formation of blood clots, and stimulate blood circulation. In the past, leeches were frequently used to treat various conditions, including headaches, arthritis, and high blood pressure. This practice, known as hirudotherapy, is still used today in certain clinics and alternative treatment centers.

Leeches also play an important role in aquatic ecosystems. They help maintain ecological balance by preventing the overpopulation of certain fish species and inhibiting the transmission of diseases or infections. Although the production of synthetic medicines has largely reduced the use of leeches in medicine, these creatures still have significant value in the field of scientific research.

However, there is also a negative side to the interaction between leeches and humans. Through the blood they extract, leeches can transmit infectious diseases and parasites. Additionally, in certain areas such as the Amazon or Africa, there are species of leeches that are dangerous and can cause severe allergic reactions or excessive blood loss in animals or humans who come into contact with them.

In addition to the medical and ecological uses of leeches, they also have historical and cultural significance. During the Middle Ages, leeches were considered an important part of the medical arsenal. They were used in treatments to "remove" bad blood or to balance the humors of the human body. Leeches were also used in cosmetics, particularly to treat acne or to achieve beautiful and silky skin.

In conclusion, leeches are fascinating creatures with a significant role in medicine, ecology, and history. Although they can provoke negative reactions among people, the controlled and monitored use of leeches for therapeutic purposes is still present in our society. These creatures remind us of the complexity and interconnectedness of life and encourage us to continue exploring and understanding the natural world.









Leeches are part of the Annelida family, class Clitellata. There are currently about 700 known species of which 100 are marine, 90 terrestrial and the rest live in fresh waters.

Most leeches are predators, they feed by swallowing other invertebrates.  The attack is in the form of an ambush.

Blood-sucking leeches have 3 teeth (or fangs) arranged at an angle with which they make their way to the blood vein.

Most species have suction cups that feed on both ends. Over time they develop different behaviors when exploring the environment.

Features leeches

Most leeches live in freshwater environments.

The most popular species of leeches is Hirudo medicinalis which feeds on blood. It has been used in medicine for thousands of years. Beginning in the 18th century in India and Greece, and later in Europe and America.

Medicinal leeches. Treatments with leeches. Hirudotherapy.

Anatomy of leeches

Their body is made up of segments. The first 4-5 segments make up the Leech's head, and contain the brain and suction cup on which it feeds. In the next 20 segments are the reproductive organs. The last segments are the tail and anterior suction cup.

Leeches for fishing

In our country leeches can be found in backwaters (swamps, ponds, canals) and most often they are used as bait when fishing for catfish, carp or barbel.

The heads are cut off and blood seeping into the water notifies the fish in the area. There are different ways in which they can be used: if left whole come larger fish, and pieces for clean or perch.

Breeding leeches

Leeches are hermaphrodites (they have both male and female reproductive organs ). They reproduce by mutual fertilization.

Types of leeches 

Medicinal leech

Horse Barnacle (they stick to the nostrils of horses when they adapt)

Tiger Leech

Dog Leech (green Leech)

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