Are there any tree-dwelling mammals which might be found taking a living leech and eating it?

(And do any hollow-dwelling birds of prey eat leeches?)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not an ecologist, but doesn't arboreal mean they live in trees? Since leeches are found in water, where would an arboreal mammal find a leech? There are grub eating mammals in trees, and I assume if they found a leech they could eat it. And how are birds involved in this question? $\endgroup$
    – user137
    Aug 3, 2014 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ I guess they could meet in the water? Even koalas are known to drink from streams or lakes. I was going to say that leeches are also known to climb trees to drop on their victims but apparently that's a myth. $\endgroup$
    – Qubei
    Aug 3, 2014 at 4:27
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    $\begingroup$ Arboreals are known to have food that is easily available near their habitats...trees...leeches if available for consumption up there, would obviously be consumed! $\endgroup$
    – Shamayeta
    Aug 4, 2014 at 2:54

1 Answer 1


First I'd like to point out that there are over 500 species of leeches. Most of them live in fresh water (nearly 90%), and so most tree-living animals would not come into contact with these leeches. Because of this a leech's biggest predator would be fish.

According to The New World Encyclopaedia the predators of leeches are fish, crayfish, turtles, birds, frogs, dragonflies, and damselflies. It states that many of their predators have also been their prey. Ecospark also adds snails and other insects to the list. Biokids also points out that leeches will eat other leeches.

Britannica cautions humans about swimming and drinking water with leeches in it. They can attach to internal cavities - such as the nose and throat and then the leeches can drop into the lungs and cause suffocation. In Asia, it is common for a domesticated animal to die in this fashion.

According to Animals.mom.me monkeys and other omnivorous animals will eat leeches that live on land, but land leeches aren't very common. After over an hour of searching various websites and information about leeches, there is no other source stating that mammals eat leeches.

However, it is possible to eat leeches. They did it on a television show called Fear Factor (video of the leeches being eaten linked). Before you go eating leeches though, remember these people were monitored both during and after ingestion of the leeches.

Short answer: There are no recorded mammals as predators to leeches, but it is known that pets have eaten leeches (as well as breathed them in). And humans are also able to eat leeches. It's all about if the leech is within grabbing distance when the mammal is hungry.


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