BITTEN by LEECHES!


– I don’t think that there’s
anything that can truly prepare you for sticking your arm into a
container full of leeches. My arm is shaking a little bit. It’s the real deal. I’m not gonna lie. I am definitely nervous. Oh my gosh. They are just squirming
all over the place. This is gonna be intense. I’m Coyote Peterson and I’m about to be eaten alive by leeches. Ready? One, (exhales) two, here we go. Three. (dramatic music) You know, normally
on a day like this I’d be out there
in the lily pads catching snapping turtles. But today, we’re gonna do
something a little different. Now we post these
Dragon Tail’s episodes a lot of you write in and say, Coyote, how many times have you been covered in leeches? And the answer to that question is absolutely never. In fact, in 20 years of catching turtles being in swamps,
ponds, and lakes, ankle deep to neck deep I have had virtually
zero leeches end up on my body. The only time I think I’ve
actually had a leech on me is when I’d been holding
a snapping turtle and one has actually
crawled off the turtle and onto my hand. And even when they did they would suction on but they would never suck blood. I’m sure a lot of you have seen the movie “Stand By Me.” You know that scene
when the kids wander down into the swamp and
get covered in leeches and they’re like, “Uhhh,
we’re being eaten alive.” That does not happen. So what we’re gonna
do today is prove that not all leeches
suck human blood. Now I’m sure you’re
thinking to yourselves Coyote, I thought we were going to see some leech bites. And you just said not all leeches
suck human blood. And they don’t. But I wouldn’t
let you guys down. So today we are going
to test what happens when my arm goes
into a container with two different species. What I have here are two separate containers. This one has your
common freshwater leech. Ones like we would find in
the pond right behind me here. These live in North America. And in this hand are European medicinal leeches. These ones are from overseas and trust me when I say that they absolutely
love human blood. All right, what I’m gonna do now is dump the freshwater
leeches into the container and then I’m gonna
put my arm in there. You guys ready? – [Man] Do it. – [Coyote Peterson]
Here you go guys. Look at that. They are creepy looking but I’m not nervous right now because I know that these leeches
will not suck blood. Even if they attach to my arm it’s more of them being curious and testing out the environment than it is them
wanting to get a meal. The moment of truth. My arm is about to
go into the container with the freshwater leeches. Ready?
– [Man] Yep. – [Coyote Peterson] One, two, three. (playful music) I said I wasn’t
nervous, but even still, putting your arm into a
container with any leeches it will definitely get
your heart rate going. Oh boy, that one looks
like it’s actually going towards my arm right
there, do you see that? Most species of
freshwater leeches, especially the ones that can
be found in the United States feed on smaller invertebrates or co-blooded species like
reptiles and amphibians. They are rather intelligent. And this is something
new in their environment. They’re going
right up to my arm. And they’re actually
turning away. Look at that. I kept my arm submerged
in the container for 15 minutes and wasn’t bitten
by a single leech. Okay, so I think at
this point we have proven that freshwater
leeches have no interest in sucking my blood. Let’s bring out European
medicinal leeches and see what happens with those. The next type of leech
is native to Eurasia. And is likely the
most famous species as they have often been
used in various medical procedures, like
reconstructive surgery. They live in muddy
freshwater ecosystems and are notorious for
feasting on blood. I just went and picked
up the container of European medicinal leeches and you probably even change you probably didn’t even notice the change in the
inflection in my voice. I’m actually nervous,
at this point. These leeches are
gonna adhere to my arm and they are going
to consume my blood. They haven’t eaten
in a few days, and trust me when I say, that they are hungry. All right, are we ready
for me to put them into the container Mark? – [Mark] All right. Release the beast. – [Coyote Peterson]
Here they go. All right. This is it. No turning back now. This is for science. Oh boy. – [Mark] A lot of
leeches in there Coyote. – [Coyote Peterson]
This is gonna be crazy. All right. I think it’s about time to sink my arm into a container full of leeches. Oh my gosh. They are just squirming all over the place. This is gonna be intense. Are we ready for me to be eaten alive by leeches? – [Mark] I think so. – You’re ready? Mark, you’re ready,
I know you’re ready. Ahhh. – [Mark] The camera’s ready. – [Coyote Peterson]
The camera’s ready. Coyote pack. I feel like you’re
probably ready. All right. – [Mark] There’s a lot
of leeches in there. – [Coyote Peterson]
There’s a lot of leeches. All right, so
without further adieu I’m Coyote Peterson and I’m about to be eaten alive by leeches. Ready? One, (exhales) two, here we go. Three. (dramatic music) That gets your nerves going that’s for sure. Look at that this one already, boom. Just like that, instantaneous secured to my arm. Holy mackerel. They’re just like
swarming towards my arm. Look at that! One on my arm
there, that’s three. (exhales) In a
matter of seconds. My arm has been in here hold on, this one’s
trying to go up my shirt go this way, boom. Another one there on my hand. My heart is racing right now. Look at that. They are all over me. Ahh. Uhh, I can definitely feel something happening. (inhales) Oooh it feels like sandpaper grinding
against my skin. (exhales) My hand and arm have
been in the water for about 60 seconds. And all but one leech is now on my arm. Now, the way that the
leeches sucker works is they adhere on and they release
from their saliva an anti-coagulant enzyme. That enzyme, not
only numbs the skin, it also doesn’t allow
the blood to clot. Now, they have teeth that are kind of in the shape of a Y. Here, Mark, look at my fingers. It looks like this. The three teeth of a leech that go like that and they slice into you. And I can feel them actually cutting into my arm. And look at that, look at how that leech is bent over, it is holding on with
the posterior sucker which is the tail, and it is consuming blood from the anterior sucker which is the mouth. And holy cow, is
this uncomfortable. Uhhh. (heartbeat sound) (exhales) It has been about 20 minutes so far since my arm has
been in the water. Pan the camera down, look at how big the leeches have gotten. They are completely swollen
with blood at this point. At this juncture, I think these leeches have
had enough of a feast. And it’s time to get them
off of my hand and arm. Now there is a right way and a wrong way too remove
a leech from your body. You may think, let
me yank it off. Yanking it off is
bad because you can actually pull their
teeth out into the wound. Those teeth get
left in the wound you can end up
with an infection. And you may think
to yourself, well maybe I should put salt on it, or put a lighter behind
it and heat it up and it will be like, I’m
scared, let me get out of here. That’s also really
bad because it will actually cause the
leech to regurgitate some of its food into the wound. That also will
cause an infection. Now the best way
to remove a leech is to just use the
edge of your finger. And what I want to
do is softly slide the anterior sucker off of the wound. Okay, you ready for that? – [Mark] How do you
know which is which? – [Coyote Peterson]
Well, it’s obvious that this is the anterior side as you can see the back end is not attached to anything. And look at that leech oh that one has popped off. Oooh, and that one
popped off too, look at that. Well. There’s also the since the leech has eaten enough and it’s going to just release itself on its own those two leeches
are so full of blood. There, done eating. Look at how big that leech is. It is full of blood. And look at the blood
just pouring out of my hand at this point. – [Mark] Wow.
– [Coyote Peterson] That leech basically said, okay, I’m done eating. Back into the water with me. What you want to do is just gently slide your finger over the anterior sucker. Here you go, look at that. I got the leech to pop off and then I can just pop
the posterior sucker off. And plop, back into the
water with the leech. Oh, there we go. Oooh, that one
hurts, look at that. You can see the blood
just seeping out. Ahhh, there’s four
of them right there. This is going to be
the bloodiest spot. You guys ready? One, two. Now there you have it. The final leech. You guys ready? Get in your zone buddy. Ahhh. The blood it’s like there’s a lot of
water in my blood and that’s the anti-coagulant
just breaking down all the platelets. And you can just see my blood almost it’s really, really thin. And it’s all about the amounts of anti-coagulant
that actually went into my hand. I may be bleeding for
hours, at this point. My hand is actually numb and that’s how these
leeches, look at how big and fat and
happy they all are at the bottom of the tank there. The water is all red. As you can see,
the drips of blood falling down into the water. It’s like a shark
attack happened right here in this container. That’s crazy. Well, I think
ultimately at this point we have proven that
while there are some species of
leeches that will not give you a bloody bite, on the other hand, there are definitely
some that will. The only thing left to do now is clean up this mess. Stick around and I’ll show you
exactly how to dress a leech bite if you’re ever unfortunate
enough to get one. I’m Coyote Peterson. Be brave. Stay wild. We’ll see you on
the next adventure. Man, that’s a lot of blood. There are nearly 700
species of leeches found on our planet. And the good news is that only a very
small percentage would even consider consuming human blood. This is not an animal you ever need to be afraid of. They do not transmit diseases and have never been responsible for a human death. As for me, I took on a massive
amount of anti-coagulant and bled for nearly 24 hours. In the end was it worth it? Well, if you no longer fear
going into a lake or pond, because we have proven that most North American
freshwater leeches have no interest in
drinking human blood then I would definitely
say that the answer is yes. If you thought removing
the leeches was like watching a scene
from a horror movie make sure to check out
the behind the adventure where I show you how to clean up and treat the aftermath. And don’t forget, subscribe to join
me and the crew on this season of Dragon Tails.

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