Why we should love leeches!

From the Daily Post: Think of something that truly repulses you. Hold that thought until your skin squirms. Now, write a glowing puff piece about its amazing merits.

This post is inspired by my unfourtunate encounters with leaches in the indonesian rainforest which we all grew to despise during our stay, but if you can get over their unpleasant blood-sucking habit, here’s a few reasons they should be admired, even if they can’t be cherished…

– They are widely misunderstood – many people believe their is only species – the blood-sucking one, but in fact they are over 700! In this respect they’re like a little lost puupy just wanting to be loved.

– They are not heartless creatures – they in fact look after their young by building nests, carrying their brood on their bodies, or even carrying them in an internal pouch, the same way marsupials like kangaroos do.

– Doctors were once known as leeches.

– Leeches have been used for thousandss of years as a cure to pretty much any disease, but in modern medicine they have a variety of medical including providing treatments for arthritis, blood-clotting disorders, varicose veins and other circulatory disorders and are also used in modern plastic and reconstructive surgery.

– Not all leeches are attracted to human blood – some are only attracted to specfici animals such as snails and many other small invertebrates.

– Leeches are like fish in that they come in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes, and so arguably, in their own way, they are beautiful creatures who have mastered the art of camoflage.  

– They are one of the world’s hermaphroditic organisms, meaning they contain both male and female sex organs so can fetilise their own eggs – another example of how they have evolved to survive

– The leech’s segmented body , strong muscular structure and unique pair of suckers are brilliant examples of how evolution and natural selection have created an organism perfectly adapted to its goal.

– It’s fun to move your finger around just out of the leeche’s reach and watch as it follows your finger around with its amazing sense of smell – this game produces the same joy akin to that taunting a cat by pointing a laser around a room and watching it try to catch the dot the laser makes.

– The largest leech ever discovered was 18 inches long – imagine the halloween pranks you could pull if you found a leech that size!

– Leeches or leech shaped and coloured things can be used as bait to catch many types of fish, including trout.

– They are an important part of the aquatic foodchain – invertebrates such asdragonfly or damselfly nymphs and vertebrate predators including fish, amphibians, and waterfowl all count leeches as a regular food source.

– Although most leeches rely on chemo- or mechanoreceptors to hunt their pray, one species, Motobdella montezuma, can track its pray using passive sonar, in that it listens out for vibrations and the system is so sophisticated it can determine the size of the prey so the leech doesn’t attack a too large or too small organism.

– They provide a fantastic metaphor for ex’s who can’t let go as well as other obsessive types.

– If you get bitten by one you should burn it immediately, encase it bites someone else and passes on any diseases in your blood, so you can take pleasure in your revenge!



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