Are Leeches Dangerous? With all the different kinds of critters that are found on Earth, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the spooky or naughty ones. Leeches are one such creature. Even though they’re small and seem innocuous, their appearance is enough to give a person chills because they’re so close to your skin. They may appear benign, but they have the capability to inflict serious damage when attached. So how dangerous are leeches? In this article, we’ll find out:
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Background on Leeches
The predatory leech is a type of worm found in freshwater. Though they don’t exactly have bodies like earthworms, they do have flexible, muscular limbs that allow them to survive on food taken from other creatures.
Are Leeches Dangerous?
Leeches are a bit scary. Their bites can cause itching and purpura, which is also caused by prickly heat. Leeches aren’t typically considered dangerous to humans, but they do have the capability of causing allergic reactions in rare circumstances.
Some people with anaphylaxis may be especially cautious around leeches, too. And speaking of anticoagulant users, it’s easy to imagine how a bite from a leech could lead to prolonged oozing when their saliva interferes with blood clotting—leading to complications even after the bite is removed.
How Many Species of Leeches are in the World?
There is a wide variety of species of leeches. Some live in water, and some live in ground or on plants.
How Do Leeches Feed?
Leeches love their favorite meal: blood. They can grow up to 10 times as large when they attach themselves to a host and drain blood from them, enabling them to ingest a large amount of blood in one fell swoop.
How to Get Rid of Leeches?
The first step to getting rid of leeches is to find them. Youll know where they are when you see the telltale signs on your skin, like a pair of small white suckers. Make sure that the wound is clean and then detach them from your skin by sliding a fingernail under their mouths.
How Do leeches Find their Prey?
These pesky bloodsuckers are known for their nocturnal behavior. But, one of their favorite activities is swimming with humans…that is, until they’re found and quickly killed by a human or other bigger animal who’s nearby.
Just like cats, leeches actually climb on hot humans to feed. Their saliva contains an anticoagulant, which prevents the muscles in the host’s body from acting out when they feel something sticking them. The enzyme also acts as a painkiller so that the user ignores any sensation when it starts sucking up the fluid that circulates through its veins.
How to Recognize a Leech?
Most types of leeches are flat, similar in length depending on the species, and have eyes at the top of their bodies. They also come in varying colors and patterns, such as spots, stripes, and dark colors. Most leeches have two suckers on each end with which they can grab items to eat or move around.
Are Leeches Used for Medical Purposes?
Although leeches can be somewhat annoying, they were often used as a type of medical therapy over the years. Sick patients have even been known to require leeches in cases where their blood is too thick or they have developed an infection.