‘I keep massive leeches as pets and let them suck on my blood’

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A man holding leeches


There are many people out there who love having strange pets – but is a blood-sucking parasite a step too far?

That’s not what one anonymous leech owner in the US told Science Alert – in fact, they own four of them, and feeds the leeches with their own blood.

The owner, who wanted to keep their identity a secret to avoid harassment for their revelations, bought four buffalo leeches for $300 [£217] each.

They told the publication that the animals make great pets – even going as far to say as they each have their own personalities.

They said: “They’re amazing, curious creatures that grow like crazy and make wonderful pets.

They bought four leeches for $300 [£217] each

“Some like to try and sneak a feed more often than others! But once they’re full, they’re content to sit and rest for a bit out of the water if handled gently.”

The leech keeper described the feeling of feeding his pets, telling readers that the initial bite into the skin does hurt.

“Once they get feeding you don’t even feel it, even with the large buffalo leeches, although the initial bite can hurt a bit,” they said.

The creatures can go up to a year between feeds, however, leech sellers recommend feeding the larger species every three to six months.

The bites heal without scarring too, due to the anti-coagulants in the leech saliva. However, it sometimes can take a few days for bleeding to stop.

A doctor holding a medical leech that has just been detached from a patient
Leeches were a Dark Ages treatment for headaches

The ability to heal without scarring has linked humans and leeches for medicinal purposes for generations. T

hey were also used for centuries as a medieval headache treatment.

Buffalo leeches are one in over 600 species around the world and, but not all of them are bloodsuckers.

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These wriggly parasites can have up to eight pairs of eyespots, which they use to detect the shadows of potential prey.

If a hungry parasitic leech senses your body heat or the CO2 in your breath, it can loop its way towards you by using its mouth and bottom suckers.

Their brains are spread across 32 body segments, and they are hermaphrodites, so each individual leech has both male and female organs, although they still require a mate to breed.





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