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Can leeches kill you?

Last Reviewed and Updated on August 2, 2022

The thought of a leech sucking your blood isn’t a pleasant one. But can it suck too much of your blood? Can leeches kill you by sucking you dry? Let’s explore how dangerous if even, these animals really are.

What are leeches?

Leeches are a special kind of worms that you most often find in the water, but some species also live on the ground. The majority of leeches are parasitic, feeding on blood by attaching themselves to their hosts. Some species are also predatory, ambushing their prey – the prey being small animals such as snails, earthworms, and insect larvae.

Want to learn more? Read through these interesting facts about leeches

Can leeches kill you?

Seeing as about three-quarters of about 700 different leeches feed on blood, do you need to fear any of them?

Generally, the answer is no. Leeches can’t really do much harm or kill you.

There is always a chance, albeit a very rare one, that you could be severely allergic to leech bites, which could lead to serious complications, but that aside, a single leech bite won’t do you any harm.

A single leech doesn’t drink a lot of blood. An average adult only drinks about 5-10 ml of blood if they manage to complete a full feeding session. That’s roughly the same as a basic blood test. You are in real danger if you lose about 40% of your blood, so about 2000 ml, so a single leech won’t suck you dry. Even a couple dozen won’t really be able to harm you.

Now, if you would somehow manage to get hundreds of leeches on your body and be unaware of them for a long time, then yes, they could suck you dry. But that is a highly, highly unlikely scenario.

While they can certainly be icky and seeing one attached to you may scare you, you don’t have to worry about it drinking too much of your blood.

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