Species: H. medicinalis
Medicinal leeches are any of a group of several species of leeches but most commonly Hirudo medicinalis or the European Medical Leech.
General morphology follows that of most other leeches. Fully mature adults can be up to 20cm in length and are green, brown or greenish brown with a darker tone on the dorsal side and a lighter ventral side, the dorsal side also has a thin red stripe. These organisms have two suckers, one at each end, called the anterior and posterior sucker. The posterior is mainly used for leverage while the anterior sucker, consisting of the jaw and teeth, is where the feeding takes place. Medicinal leeches have three jaws (tripartite) that look like little saws, and on them are about 100 sharp teeth used to incise the host. The incision leaves a mark which is an inverted Y inside of a circle. After piercing the skin and injecting anti-coagulants (Hirudin) and anaesthetics they suck out blood. Large adults can consume up to 15 grams of blood in a single meal. Medicinal leeches are hermaphrodites which reproduce by sexual mating, laying eggs in clutches of up to 50 near (but not under) water, and in shaded, humid places.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
at 9:43 PM