Leech

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oldtimer

Full Member
Sep 27, 2005
2,653
1,189
79
Oxfordshire and Pyrenees-Orientales, France
Although like most of us I've suffered from "a person who extorts profit or sponges on others" from time to time, today I had my first encounter with hirudinea, the freshwater leech. I find this surprising given being in my 80th year and having, from childhood run around in the wilder parts of Europe, the sub- tropics and the USA this the first time I have had a leech bite and in my own garden in Oxfordshire,to boot!

It took me some time to grasp what had happened when Madame saw what she first took to be a slug on the kitchen floor while I was cooking dinner this evening. The penny dropped when I noticed the hole in my leg.

I tap into the collective wisdom to ask:-
Are leeches common in the UK?
Does the recent wet weather have a bearing on this?
We live next to a water meadow where, uncommonly, horse have been grazing for the last two weeks. Is this significant?
Have you had a leech experience?

Any comments or observations welcome.
 

slowworm

Native
May 8, 2008
1,344
354
Devon
I don't remember ever having one attach to me but I've always found leeches in ponds I've had or streams I've played in so have assumed they're very common.
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
36,708
2,625
S. Lanarkshire
They're very common. Humans are fairly rare in their waters now though so we don't hear much about them these days.
When I was a child where two local rivers meet, it's kind of rocky and shallow there, and it was a frequent paddling spot for kids, the leeches used to leave us running with blood sometimes.

Horse leeches are a different beast altogether and are more common on wet ground. Apparently they mostly eat earthworms.

One of our ponds has the little black ones. I suspect they manage on the frogs and newts.
 
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punkrockcaveman

Full Member
Jan 28, 2017
956
772
yorks
I've not seen loads personally, but they are here. You get quite small ones living on fish in winter where they are sitting still on the bottom more often, particularly on pike. Apparently, the big black ones make a great bait for catfish! Go figure.
 
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