Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Cut-throat Leech

Not a new species, just a new attack approach.

This Leech obviously thought attacking my ankles and shins was too "boring". He certainly got me by the Jugular (or close to it, anyway).

I had blood dripping onto my fingers, and didn't know where it was coming from.

I went to the bathroom mirror and saw my throat bleeding.
Then I saw a Leech buried amongst my silvery beard.

Of course I then did what they always tell you not to do, which is just "rip it off". (Don't do that folks) Better to apply salt (very difficult on one's own throat), or try rubbing it with Tea tree Oil or Eucalyptus Oil. They don't like it, and release themselves, sealing the wound before they leave, with a little injection of anti-coagulant. (DJW EDIT: Wrong, I meant coagulant - see note at end, and Martin's comment)

Eventually I was successful in ripping the Leech off, but then I realised I was in for more trouble, because I had 'attacked it" not persuaded it to "release itself - in a sensible manner".

The Leech had not "released itself" properly, which involves injecting the anti-coagulant juices they normally use, to prevent their host" (me) bleeding, after they have left off drinking. (Same silly mistake as above - see notes below, and Martin's comment)

Consequently, a few minutes later, after disposing of the Leech, I looked again, and this is what I saw. Blood was literally running down my throat.

My chin is held high, and the rest is throat, 
and the neck of my jumper is just visible.

 It is very hard photographing one's own throat (using a flash).
Eventually I got one image which more or less worked.

For reference purposes, I must have picked up this little hitch-hiking parasite when I had visited a Melaleuca thicket half-way down along Belmore Falls Road. This is a wet creek-bed, but I have never had leech problems there, before. I expect them in the Robertson Rain Forest, but not in the sandstone-based Eucalypt forest (through which this narrow strip of Melaleuca trees, and the creek, runs).

And this occurred on 2 July - close to mid-winter.
I blame Global Warming for this unseasonal attack.

Should I blame the Carbon Tax as well?
Everyone else seems to do equally strange things.

For the record, re this anti-coagulant vs coagulant business, I do know what the Leeches do to facilitate their drinking of my blood, and afterwards:
I wrote the following on Facebook, yesterday, in answer to a question:
  • Leeches are brilliant chemical engineers.
    The Pharmacists have tried to copy their chemicals.
    They inject a pain killer firstly - so you don't notice them starting to suck.
    Then they inject an anti-coagulant, so the blood flows freely.
    Then when they are ready to leave, they inject an opposite chemical, a clotting agent, a coagulant, so the host (me in this case) does not bleed to death (afterwards).
    However, if you disturb them, sometimes they do not get to inject the clotting agent.
My problem was that I wrote this post too quickly, prior to going to Tuesday Night Trivia at Three Creeks Cafe. I tried to short-cut the explanation and got it wrong. Sorry everybody.
Thanks Martin for correcting me.


Flabmeister said...


Is it not a coagulant which stops the bleeding? They normally put in anti-coagulant to keep up the flow without them having to suck too hard.

On our recent trip to Sri Lanka the record length of bleeding after removal of the leech was 4 hours!


Mr. Smiley said...

No Denis, not the Carbon Tax--but Global Warming!

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Martin and Dave Rentz.
My silly error (written in haste) has now been corrected, Martin.
Dave, my comment on the Carbon Tax was an attempt to be sarcastic, as everybody seems to be blaming all sorts of things on it.
I will settle for Global Warming for a Leech being active in the depths of Winter.

Paul said...

LoL - you're singing my song! - I get 'leeched' all too often, with the associated mild itchiness both during and long after the bite ... maybe I'm mildly allergic?.

Anyway, it's an interesting post.


Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Paul.
Well, leeches love it wet - whether or not it is hot.
Thanks for the encouragement.

jorget said...

Hi Denis,
I am impressed by your tenacity to record this gruesome experience. Luckily, we do not get leeches in the Wollemi National Park. I know all about them from my years in Queensland.

You might be right about the climate change. We grow citrus fruit and because it ripens in winter we were in the past not troubled by fruit fly. However, in the last three winters I have noticed a gradual build up of the males in my traps. Perhaps I should start counting the critters and graphing the trends to prove once for all that it is due to carbon tax, mining tax or perhaps even the climate change.

The last is, of course, only a joke. We all know well from Prof Plimer himself that infinite exponential growth in energy consumption is entirely possible.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Jorge
Nice to hear from you, via a comment on the Blog.
Your comment about Fruit Fly is interesting. It fits a pattern, certainly.
Don't expect Professor Plimer to agree with anything your or I might say, let alone the Minerals Council of NSW.

catmint said...

Unusual behaviour for a leech - actually very advanced in the darwinian survival stakes - salt is tricky to apply to one's beard, and using a match is definitely out of the question. i hope the experience didn't adversely affect your trivia performance?

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Catmint
I certainly would not like to burn the beard.
Hair burns hot and fast.
More ouch!