Friday, March 19, 2010


Leeches, many (especially the women folks) hate them, not only because of their blood-sucking nature but also for their crawly and rubbery method of locomotion!

There are two types of leeches here, the small crawly ones (pacat) and the big swimming ones (lintah).

Pacat is found almost everywhere, even in my lawn! They are found in bushes, jungles and in our National Parks they can be found even on bare soil, roots and branches.

They can get to you in so many ways. If you visit the National Parks, they can even crawl up or just drop from twigs to your armpits if you are all covered up feet upwards!

How to prevent them from getting to you? Someone told me to wet some tobacco and apply the tobacco juice to your feet. The pacat will not climb up your feet even if you place your feet right in front of them.

But don't worry. You will not feel any pain during the pacat's blood-sucking process. The onlly sensation you may feel is a slight itch. It will fall down once it is full of your blood. You will realize it only when it has fallen down and blood oozing out from the puncture wound.

Lintah, the bigger version, is a different story. It is normally found in swamp and rivers. They swim to anything alive to suck up blood.

Once a lintah got itself lodged into my skin ulcer (kudis) when I was collecting a water plant (kiambang) for my fighting fish. It stuck tightly to my wound that I had to use a stick to pull it out.

Lintah are always related to buffaloes. Sometimes you can find three of more leeches on a buffalo.

Recently a girl was reported dead when a leech got into her digestive system through her anus. I am not too sure whether a leech can cause death in that case, but they found dead leech and blood clots coming out of her.

There is a chemical secreted by the leeches to prevent blood from clotting during sucking process. It is called hirudin. It is a very potent anti clot and has been used in human medicine.


Martin Lee said...

I used to rub salts to prevent leeches on both of my hands and legs to catch those fighting fishes. Leeches are ugly creatures and they walk with inverted "U" style, from head to head or tail to tail. If they could wriggle, maybe would not be so hated by the women!

I just paid for 3 wild fighting fishes to be kept at home instead of going through again the leech biting experience.

The buffalo leeches are big ones and some old Chinese medicine men used them to suck out bad blood from wounds to induce fresh blood for faster cure. I suppose your wound healed faster after that bite!

Everything that goes with blood is disgusting, be it the vampires or even the mosquitoes. My place in Geliga is always full of Aedes mosquitos and they swarm you like a battalion of soldiers whenever you step out of the house!

azahar said...

Now even hospitals use leeches to suck out 'bad blood' from gangrenes, swollen ares of the body, etc etc

So blood-thirst were the leeches that humans with similar tendencies are often referred to as 'lintah darat' (lan leeches)

The way leech farmers feed their leeches seem cruel, even to me. They use catfish or eels to feed their leeches.

Imagine many many leeches sucking the fish's blood! They become so pale in no time!

We are lucky in that we do not have vampire bats here. They ahve them in North and south america and even in Europe and Australia.

They not only suck blood but also transmit rabies and bat lyssavirus to human.