About a leech

Wriggling in the mud. Stretching out its segmented body with fresh confidence for a brand new day. The sunlight filtering through tree tops reflects off of the golden strip on its glistening black surface. The sucker teeth up front prepare to fulfill the gory appetite of their slimy beneficiary. Steadily, it detaches its razor-sharp teeth and propels the head forward, and gets ready to dash towards any living, stirring creature in a motion of peristalsis. The sun rays wash the glittering black skin with beams of vigor.

A hint of light-footed movement towards the west appears and instantly the smooth and flexible body rapidly contracts and stretches. The targeted creature keeps shuffling around some dry leaves, oblivious to the determined leech taking long strides towards it. One moment of stillness and it latches its fanged ends to the furry hind leg of the rabbit. Thus commences the breakfast ritual of our slimy friend, as the rabbit scurries off on its way, knowing little of the blood it is offering to its guest.

 Having had a decent fill, the leech relaxes amidst long stalks of bright green grass glowing in the mid-day sun. It contemplates any further prospects of blood-sucking sessions this day. Memories of its hosts in the past six months of its life flash through all of its 34 brains. No extraordinary instance has ever disrupted the daily and drab routine of searching for hosts and quietly, stealthily clinging to them, and then without a word falling off of them in some time.

Suddenly a locomotive sensation catches the leech’s attention, and a large and heavy creature lets its furry buttocks descend to the wet soil with a thud. The bear calmly chews on the meaty part of a fish bone and our slithery protagonist accompanies him, sucking on its brown, furry thigh. Two or more such placid animals are turned into unaware hosts until the leech has nearly reached its daily fill.

It slowly climbs up the rough bark of a tree and prepares to doze off for the day, when a peculiar creature with five limbs appears very close to it. It immediately rushes forward and sinks its sucker teeth in one limb. There is rarely any fur and the fleshy and bony limbs begin drumming on the tree bark. Our friend draws up blood through its long proboscis, without suspecting anything out of place. Then the strangest of phenomena bewilders it, as a pair of human fingernails gently detach its teeth from the soft furless skin, and flick it off. It falls in an ocean of its fellow leeches all scrambling on top of one another in utter confusion. It stares up at the large four limbed creature carrying them all in a glass container and grapples at some possible meaning of the turn its life suddenly took.

P.S. – Do not panic if you find a land leech clinging to any part of your body. It is painless, as an anesthetic is released by the leech. Using salt may help, but it is usually not advised as the leech vomits back the blood, which can lead to infection. You can pull up its teeth using your finger nails and flick it off, or wait for 20 minutes or so until it falls off on its own accord. Some leeches are medicinal, and are collected for treating several injuries.

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Published by alientrekker

An alien cherishing her best moments on some mountains of the earth.

10 thoughts on “About a leech

  1. The writeup! Such an accurate description of a typical day in the life of a wild leech, until it met its non-furry nemesis πŸ˜€
    I have had mixed experiences with leeches. Knowing the potentially harmful effect of using salt on leeches, I went for my first trek in leech territory without any bells and whistles. Only one bite and another helpless leech still trying to figure a way to my skin through the hiking trousers emboldened me. The next time I tried the same tactic on a different trek, I came away with a pockmarked calf with half a dozen tiny leeches still trying to feast on my blood.
    In times like these, especially for a person who’s not accustomed to the sight, it’s very hard to keep calm and not flick them off in an instant. The bites did itch for a good 4 days after that!
    I’ll try the fingernail method next time round, provided there aren’t multiple leeches vying for my blood πŸ˜€
    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You sound really bold on your encounter with them! I’m a bit confused, but what tactic did you use? Teach me please!
      Yeah the sight must be a bit eerie for the stranger. Every time I realised that I’d been bit, the leech was long goneπŸ˜…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Being bold is the only option once you venture deep into forests with dense leech population! And to be honest, I don’t think it worked very well considering the mixed outcome.

        So my hiking trousers come with drawstrings around the bottom (ankle) opening. I pulled it to make sure it fit snugly around my boots. It worked very well on my fast hike through Kumara Parvatha, which doesn’t have many leeches.

        (Warning- potentially triggering) The next time I tried it on Kopatty and Thadiyandimol peaks (which have way more leeches), at the end of the day, I found my calves dotted with bites and plenty of leeches still merrily sucking my blood. I flicked them off one after the other (without prising their suckers off with fingernails- a mistake) and that must have left their tiny teeth at the bites, which caused the itchiness well after the trek. Also, contary to most people’s (and my own) experience, one of the bites continued to bleed for a few hours instead of coagulating.

        As for tactics that supposedly work, some people swear by coffee powder (especially in Kerala) and others by Salt. Still others have mentioned that dabbing the boots and trousers with an antiseptic liquid like Dettol or Savlon turns off leeches but I am a little wary of this method as the strong odour can be a bit of problem in forests. Yet others have turned to Anti-Leech socks.

        Hardcore trekkers on the other hand, just let them be! (which shouldn’t be hard once you get used to the sight of multiple leeches) πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah just the fabric of trousers acting as a shield is bound to fail at some point of time.
        But your description sounds so damn fascinating, I must say. I’ve never gone trekking in Kerala or thereabouts, and your words are igniting a desire to instantly pack my bags and go exploring there.
        Oh, and does coffee powder work? I’ve never heard of it’s utility until now!
        Yeah getting used to those little wiggling creatures is necessary to sign up for serious minded trekking, I suppose (which I’m still trying thoughπŸ˜…)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh yeah, fabric alone doesn’t do much to thwart leeches. And yes, I have seen people use Coffee powder (one mixed with chicory) on leeches and I guess it works in a way similar to salt. In Kerala, it might have caught on because of the relatively inexpensive coffee mixes.

        Oh and you must visit Kerala, or for that matter, the Western Ghats! The variety of terrain and features they offer are mind boggling! I’d be more than happy to help you with any information or logistical support you might need πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I have heard of the famous coffee cultivation of Kerala! Didn’t know about this use though!
        I have been to Kerala (Kochi) during my school days, and it was wondrously beautiful. I will be sure to ping you up when I’ll plan another trip to God’s own country!

        Liked by 1 person

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