Ticks and Leeches

Both parasitic, ticks and leeches are dependent on other organisms for survival. They attach themselves to larger hosts and gain sustenance by feeding on the hosts’ blood.

Leeches are segmented worms that inhabit both land and fresh water. After adhering themselves to a host, leeches are capable of consuming three to five times their own body weight in blood. Feeding sites continue to bleed after leeches have removed themselves from their hosts. These open wounds are susceptible to infection.

When administered in sterile, controlled environments, leeches have been considered important medical tools. Health care practitioners have made use of them for centuries and even modern medicine has on occasion utilized them.

Ticks climb up grass or shrubs and position themselves to drop onto the fur or skin of hosts. They attach themselves by way of their mouthparts. Like leeches, they detach themselves only after they are through feeding.

Ticks are known to be vectors of diseases. These eight-legged arachnids are responsible for the spread of Lyme disease, tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, among other diseases. There is also a risk of infection at the site of the bite. Improper removal techniques may only spread contaminated fluids from the specimen to its host.