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Leech Facts

A form of segmented worm

  • Leeches belong to the phylum Annelida and comprise the subclass Hirudinea.
  • Like Earthworms, they share a clitellum and are hermaphrodites (reproductive organs associated with both male and female sexes).
  • Majority of leeches live in freshwater environments.
  • They have been historically used in medicine to remove blood from patients.
  • Hirudo medicinalis is the medicinal use of leeches.
  • Most leech species do not feed on human blood, but instead prey on small invertebrates, which they eat whole.
  • Their sizes range from 1 to 25 centimeters.
  • They do not eat many times but eat a lot in one go.
  • They keep feeding up to five times their body weight after which they fall down (because of their weight).
  • There are 650 known species of leeches.
  • They have 32 brains, three mouths and millions of teeth.
  • The bite of a leech is painless because of its own anaesthetic.
  • The first leech was used in medicine about 1000 B.C., probably in ancient India.
  • The Nervous System of the leech is very similar to the human.
  • The main species of leech, the Hirudo, is an endangered species.
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