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Giant Leech | by antonsrkn
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Giant Leech

Kinabalu giant red leech (Mimobdella buettikoferi) - Mount Kinabalu National Park, Malaysia

 

Not the most cuddly of animals this is the Kinabalu giant red leech, the biggest leech species in the world! It was hard to tell exactly how long this individual was as at times it would contract and at others it would stretch but I'd guess 4 to 5 inches long making it the largest leech I have encountered. However even at 5 inches this is still a small individual for this species which can get more than double that size, up to 12 inches (30cm)! Unlike its lowland cousins that inhabit the jungles in Borneo this species isn't hematophagic, meaning it doesn't feed on blood. Instead it hunts and consumes worms, particularly the Kinabalu giant earthworm, which just like the leech is only found on Mount Kinabalu in Borneo. As with many of my subjects, I came across this leech while nighthiking, this particular night was quite rainy as well which is likely why this leech was out in the open and moving about, probably looking for worms that the rain had driven to the surface.

 

One thing of interest about this is that most of the limited info seems to say that this species is found from 2,500 m to 3,000 m of elevation, I came across it notably lower at about 1,800 m asl.

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Taken on August 29, 2014