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Feeding times of leeches and vampire bats

Mark Siddall mes at zoo.toronto.edu
Thu Jan 11 10:02:44 EST 1996

In article <4d1gub$1t3 at news.cis.okstate.edu> asb7223 at okway.okstate,edu writes:
>Dear Colleagues
>I'm wanting to compare the feeding times/host attachment times of various 
>blood-feeding ectoparasites to that of hard ticks.  Could someone please 
>tell me what are the approximate feeding times of leeches and vampire bats.

Well, I dunno about vamps but for leeches it depends on the species.
For Hirudo medicinalis and Macrobdella decora, if left undisturbed, 
they'll feed for about an hour.  But then undisturbed is not 
biologically realistic.  Moreover, it's unlikely that they are getting
all that muc in the last 15 minutes.  These leeches shed much of the 
water in blood as they feed thereby concentrating the blood meal.
Other leeches like Placobdella ornata feed for about a half-hour or so
(if undisturbed).  But all of this dependes on size of the leech too.
An 8" leech is gonna feed for a whole lot longer than a 2" leech
from the same spcies.
Then of course we have the marine leeches where feeding time is going to
depend a lot on water temperature.
For all of them it also depends on where they feed from.  A placobdellid
feeding from the groin area of a turtle will take less time than one
feeding through the plastron (which they do).
Macrobdella decora (the NA medicinal leech) feeds on a variety of mammals
amphibians and fishes and likely has different feeding times for each.

Sorry I could not be more unequivocal.

Mark E. Siddall                "I don't mind a parasite...
mes at vims.edu                    I object to a cut-rate one" 
Virginia Inst. Marine Sci.                     - Rick
Gloucester Point, VA, 23062

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