In detail

The leech - Wanted poster

The leech - Wanted poster



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Characteristics

Surname: Leech
Other namesPhotos: Medical leech
Latin name: Hirudo medicinalis
class: Belt worms
size: 7 - 15cm
mass: ?
Older: 5 - 20 years
Appearance: brownish
Sexual dimorphism: No
Nutrition type: Blood eaters (hematophagus)
food: Blood
distribution: worldwide
habitat: quiet and slow-flowing waters
natural enemies: ?
sexual maturity: about the second / third year of life
mating season: all year round
Number of offspring: 10 - 20 eggs
Threatened with extinction: No
Further profiles of animals can be found in the Encyclopaedia.

Interesting about the leech

  • Leechs are an order of the belt worms and are considered the most famous representatives of the family of flukes. As annelid worms, leeches are closely related to the earthworm.
  • The genus of leeches comprises about six hundred species worldwide. These are found on all continents and live primarily in fresh water, few species are also found in seawater. They prefer standing or only slightly flowing waters such as ponds, pools or streams, which have a clear water quality and always the same water level.
  • They are excellent swimmers, but they can also move ashore.
  • In contrast to earthworms, the body of leeches is not round, but of oval and flattened shape.
  • The body, which can be up to thirty centimeters long, depending on the type in the extended state, is subdivided into over thirty visible segments, which, however, do not coincide with the inner sections.
  • Both at the front and at the rear end of the body is ever a suction cup. The posterior serves as a leech for clinging to the skin surface of its host. At the front end of the suction cup sits with the mouth, in which there are three jaw rows with a total of eighty, consisting of calcite tiny teeth.
  • Leech, as its name suggests, feeds on blood. With the front sucker they bite into the skin of the host. As a source of nutrition, adult leeches serve the blood of various mammals and humans.
  • A potential victim perceives leeches in the water by locating the movements and then swimming in that direction at lightning speed.
  • After sucking, which usually takes a maximum of one hour, a leech does not need any food for about a year as the blood is preserved in its body.
  • As a hermaphrodite, leeches after fertilization about thirty eggs in the well-moistened soil near the water. The young hatch after about one and a half months and are only about one centimeter long.
  • Leeches were used in the Middle Ages for medical purposes. In the saliva of the animals are certain substances that inhibit blood coagulation and have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect.
  • For centuries, the healing abilities of the leech therapy had been forgotten, today the blood-sucking animals are increasingly used again.
  • Leech used in medicine are bred exclusively in laboratories. These animals have been successful in the alternative treatment of rheumatic diseases, venous insufficiency and arthritis.
  • Leeches have a high life expectancy. Animals kept in medical laboratories can live up to twenty years.