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The Blood Suckers of the Worm World By: Mrs. Heaton
Why did I pick this animal?
I picked leeches to do a report on because I see them in movies and I have always wondered how you get them off. In the movies they burn a cigar on the leech to get them to release from their skin. Is that true? I also know in the olden days doctors used leeches on sick people to try and help heal them. This is something I find very interesting. My report is designed to educate people about leeches.
Leeches are invertebrates (no backbones) and are classified as part of the segmented worm family. The are closely related to Earthworms. Leeches look like a fat, flattened worm with a tapering tail, ranging in color from dark brown to black. They are usually a few centimeters long, but they may get up 15 centimeters when stretched out.
Leeches can secrete a pain killer into their prey so animals don’t know they are on them. They also secrete a anti-coagulant so blood flows freely and doesn’t clot.
Leeches Live Where?
Leeches live all over the world. There about 10% that live in the United States. Most leeches like moist habitats with lots of water. Swampy areas are very popular leech hangouts. You are not likely to find leeches in dry climates. You will find them in rain forest environments and near rivers, streams, ponds but not in desert environments. Most leeches live in fresh water.
The temperatures in the leeches environment are considered temperate – generally meaning all four seasons are observed. Since they live near water temperatures tend to be higher then what you would find inland. Many leeches live in rainforests, which are hot year round.
Leeches need water to survive so you will find lots of water in the environment that they live in. Leeches must keep their bodies moist to live.
There are a lot of plants in the environment that leeches live in because of the amount of water. The plants provide places for the leeches to hide to get their prey and to prevent from
There are a lot of animals in a leeches environment (many taking advantage of the water source they live by). This provides plenty of prey for the leech.
Many leeches have one or more pair of eyes visible on the top of their heads. They have have very poor eyesight and can only detect changes in brightness of light.
SMELL Leeches have very good sense of smell. It is their sense of smell (and touch) that helps them locate their prey.
Leeches can not hear. They are sensitive to vibrations through receptors on their skin.
Leeches have mouths and those that prey on larger animals have sharp teeth that can bite into flesh. However, they are mostly scavengers that eat the remains of dead insects and animals. They have a strong sense of taste.That helps them enjoy their tasty meal of blood.
Leeches are very sensitive to touch. They have very specialized skin that allows them to feel vibrations of prey moving into the area. They crawl and use their sense of touch to guide them. They communicate with other leeches through touch.
FOOD AND LIFE CYCLE
Leeches do not breed, because there are no female and male leeches. Leeches are hermaphroditic, which means that they have both male and female characteristics and can produce offspring without mating.
Some leeches complete their life cycle in a few months, but many can live for several years.
Sun Plants Animals Leech Birds, Turtles Frogs
Interesting Fact #1
A leech attaches itself when it bites, and it will stay attached until it has had its fill of blood. To get a leech off do not use a flame! It can cause the leech to throw up its stomach contents into the wound. The vomit may carry disease and increase the risk of infection.
Interesting Fact #2
To remove a leech use your fingernail to break the seal of the oral sucker at the anterior end (the smaller, thinner end) of the leech, repeating with the posterior end, then flicking the leech away.
Interesting Fact #3
Leeches have a chemical that they secrete out of their mouths that numbs the area where they have bitten. Many people can not tell they have a leech on them because they can’t feel it.
Interesting Fact #4
Leeches also produce a chemical that keeps blood from clotting. That means the blood will flow continuously without stopping to the leech. Once the leech is off you your blood will start to clot and stop running as normal.
http://www.austmus.gov.au/factSheets/leeches.htm http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Hirudinea/ http://www.desertusa.com/mag08/sept08/leeches.html http://www.kidfish.bc.ca/leech_cycle.htm http://www.kidfish.bc.ca/leech.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leech http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Leech