Re: Leeches

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Re: Leeches
From: "Paul Taylor" <>
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 22:51:04 +1100
On the subject of repelling leeches, people may be interested in the
1996 Ig Nobel Prize winning paper:  "Effect of ale, garlic, and soured
cream on the appetite of leeches" at

I once carried a leech from near Bateman's Bay to Canberra in my boot;
it had managed to get inside the weave of a thick "Explorer" sock, but
was unable to get out again after it had fed.  Once they're full, leeches
have no further desire to bite you (in fact, quite the opposite.)  I felt
sorry for bringing the leech back to a Canberra winter; I tried to keep
it alive, but it died a few days later.

This particular leech had an orange stripe down either side of its body;
I assume this stripe acts as a warning to potential predators, as it
would not visible unless the leech has swollen with blood.  Since a
blood-filled leech would be more nutritious than a starved leech, what
is it warning predators about?  One medicinal reference to "Hirudo 
seu whitmaniae" - sun-dried leech (no, really!) - described it as 
being "Salty, bitter, neutral and slightly toxic."  


"Doctor: ... An extraordinary new cure has just been developed for
     exactly this kind of sordid problem.
 Edmund: It wouldn't have anything to do with leeches, would it?
 D: I had no idea you were a medical man.
 E: Never had anything you doctors didn't try to cure with leeches: 
     a leech on my ear for earache, a leech on my bottom for
 D: They're marvellous, aren't they?
 E: Well, the bottom one wasn't. I just sat there and squashed it.
 D: You know the leech comes to us on the highest authority?
 E: Yes, I know that.  Dr Hoffmann of Stuttgart, isn't it?
 D: That's right, the great Hoffmann.
 E: Owner of the largest leech farm of Europe.
 D: Yes.  Well, I cannot spend all day gossiping. I'm a busy man.
     As far as this case is concerned, I have now had time to think it
     over and I can strongly recommend a course of leeches. [in chorus]
 E: Yes, I'll pop a couple down my codpiece before I go to bed.
 D: No, no, no, no - don't be ridiculous! This isn't the dark ages;
     just pop four in your mouth in the morning, and let them dissolve 
     slowly ..."
  - Blackadder II, "Bells."

   Paul Taylor                                  Veni, vidi, tici -
                           I came, I saw, I ticked.

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU