The Medicinal Leech

Foxgloves growing close to the edge of one of the Lake District’s numerous tarns.

After a few days spent camping in the cool and damp Wasdale valley we headed south into the more familiar fells and woodland of south Cumbria and north Lancashire. With the sun shining it was far too nice to rush back down the M6 and towards Manchester.

Stopping off to take a break and enjoy a few hours strolling around we decided to visit a well known spot. Meghan being thirsty walked up to the water’s edge and staring back at us was at least 7 Medicinal Leeches.

Once common the Medicinal Leech is now on the edge of extinction due to a combination of over-zealous collectors, changes in land use and wetland drainage. Protected under a whole raft of international legislation on this occasion I’ve decided not to reveal their exact location.

Easy to identify by their sheer size and orange and yellow makings along the dorsal side of the body it really is an iconic freshwater animal.

Apparently they feed upon a wide range of prey including frogs, newts, fish, birds and mammals. Unfortunately for many smaller species they tend to cause fatal blood loss and behave more as a predator than parasite.

A wonderful creature and such a big part of our history. It’d be tragic if they were allowed to become extinct.

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