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North American medicinal leech facts

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TAXONOMY

Macrobdella decora Say, 1824.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: American leech.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Olive dorsum with a medial row of orange spots on each fifth annulus and paramedial rows of black dots. Orange venter with two rows of outstanding ####ual gland pores behind the gonopores. Commonly grows up to 3.9 in (10 cm) or extra in size and 0.39 in (1 cm) huge. Parabolic arc of 10 cephalic eyes organized in 5 pairs. Three jaws in pharynx with nice denticles.

DISTRIBUTION

North America; east of the Rocky Mountains from southern Canada to the Carolinas and alongside the Mississippi River drainages.

HABITAT

Found in naturally occurring freshwater lakes, ponds streams and marshes. When resting, normally discovered on the air/water interface close to shore.

BEHAVIOR

An glorious and agile swimmer, this species can detect and transfer towards disturbances in water from a distance of some yards. Vertical wavelike motions and use of the caudal sucker present ahead motion and thrust. Oral and caudal suckers apply adverse stress to surfaces for suction and attachment functions.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds principally on the blood of amphibians and fishes; sometimes feeds on mammals. Creates a three-part incision with its jaws and makes use of adverse stress of the pharynx to draw out the upwelling blood. Can ingest portions of blood a number of instances better than its unfed physique weight. Can retailer blood in crop (enlarged space on the base of the esophagus) for months.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Mating is thru gonopore-to-gonopore copulation however penis and vagina are fairly small relative to these of its European counterpart. The eggs are laid in clitellar secretions surrounding the physique, that are then slipped over head to type a protecting egg case or cocoon. Cocoons with roughly 10 eggs every are deposited on land close to the sting of a physique of water. Development is direct.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN. Populations are normally ample when encountered.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Features prominently in creation mythology of the Osage tribe of Native Americans. Antiplatelet aggregation issue, decorsin, remoted from salivary secretions. Not extensively used for phlebotomy.

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