Encyclopedia of Parasitology

Living Edition
| Editors: Heinz Mehlhorn

Haemopis sanguisuga

  • Heinz Mehlhorn
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27769-6_1383-2


Greek: haima = blood; ophis = snake; Latin: sanguis = blood; sugere = sucking.

This leech, which is found in the whole of Europe and North Africa, belongs to the order Gnathostomidae of the Hirudinea and is also called “horse leech.” Both the scientific and trivial names are wrong, since this leech, which reaches at the adult stage a length of up to 15 cm, lives in freshwater biotopes and neither sucks blood nor attacks horses, but it engorges other annelid worms and insect larvae – thus living as a predator. Its upper side appears brownish, while its flattened basal side looks yellowish green. When named it was mixed with another leech, who got also the trivial name “horse leech,” but is now correctly named as Limnatis nilotica. This 8–12 cm leech indeed is able to enter into the mouth, esophagus, or nasal cavities of many animals, including dogs, cattle, horses, and camels during their water uptake from little water ponds in regions around the Mediterranean Sea.


Water Uptake Nasal Cavity Adult Stage Water Pond Basal Side 
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  1. Jovanovic Z, Jovanovic S (2013) Comparison of the effects of cumene hydroperoxide and hydrogen peroxide on Retzius nerve cells of the leech Haemopis sanguisuga. Exp Anim 62: 9–17CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Zoomorphologie, Zellbiologie und ParasitologieHeinrich-Heine-UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany