Last updated on February 5th, 2022
Leeches are the close relatives of the oligochaetes that consist of earthworms, and they are predatory or segmented parasitic worms with soft and muscular bodies.
Their habitats are primarily freshwater, albeit few species can be spotted in marine or terrestrial environments.
In medicine, they played a significant role since ancient times to withdraw blood from the patients till the 19th century.
They feed on the blood of other animals by extracting it, and if they have a chance, they will also suck the blood of humans.
They only need to feed themself once a year. Although many predators look at it as their food source, some are mentioned below.
Animals that eat leeches:
- Smallmouth Bass
- Redear Sunfish
- Garter Snake
Here are 9 animals that eat leeches.
Ducks are mostly comparatively short-necked and smaller than family members, geese, and swans.
Their diet naturally includes crustaceans like crayfish, amphibians, tiny water snails, worms, insects, seeds, and aquatic vegetation like pondweed.
They are one of the leeches’ biggest avian predators and they regularly dive in to snap the leeches up along with their other prey.
They are primarily aquatic birds, thus can be present in both sea and freshwater.
They are sometimes mistakenly associated with similarly formed water birds like coots, gallinules, grebes, and loons.
Excluding Antarctica, there’s no continent where they aren’t found, and their distribution is cosmopolitan.
However, numerous species can survive on subantarctic islands consisting of the Auckland Islands and South Georgia.
A few duck species that breed in the Arctic Northern Hemisphere and temperate zone are migratory, while the tropical ones aren’t.
2. Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth bass fish belongs to the sunfish family and is a freshwater fish species. It’s of the Perciformes order and is its genus’s type species.
They are considered cannibalistic; young ones eat immature aquatic insects and plankton, whereas the full-grown ones can include terrestrial insects, crayfish, minnows, chubs, and panfish in their diet.
Leeches can be an easy target for them, and it’s considered a delicacy by them.
A smallmouth bass’ maximum recorded length is 27 inches, while the weight is 12 pounds and they are indigenous to the Hudson Bay basin, Saint Lawrence River, and middle and upper Mississippi River basins.
They are potent swimmers for their fusiform and muscular body shape. Females are usually larger than males.
Crayfishes are omnivorous and thus feed on both plant and animal matter. It doesn’t matter if it’s living, detritus, or decomposing.
They feed on shrimps, fishes, plankton, insects, worms, and algae. They can also be fed broccoli stems, carrot chunks, and frozen peas. They are also the natural predators of leeches.
Crayfish resemble small lobsters in a distinct location; they are also referred to as mudbugs, rock lobsters, craydids, and crawdads.
The freshwater crustaceans are the Parastacidae and Astacoidea superfamilies’ members.
They breathe via their feather-like gills, and they can’t primarily withstand polluted water, although a few robust species like Procambarus clarkii may survive.
They can get vulnerable due to acid rains for their weaker exoskeletons in the acidified environment, and their population may also crash.
4. Redear Sunfish
The redear sunfish belongs to the Centrarchidae family and is also referred to as Georgia beam, improved bream, and cherry gill.
Their top-priority food is the snails that they obtain by cracking their shell and are thus commonly known as shell crackers, and they are popular for including it with mollusks in their diet.
They can even open small clams and they are also naturally good at eating leeches and can consume them in huge quantities.
This freshwater fish is indigenous to the southeast United States. It got introduced to the North American water bodies for its fame as a sport fish.
Excluding coloration, they usually resemble the bluegills, although somewhat larger.
Bluegill is the Centrarchidae, sunfish families’ member of the Perciformes order.
This freshwater fish species is also known as sunny, brim, and bream. It’s indigenous to North America, present in lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams.
They can be spotted at the eastern side of the Rockies, and it generally hides in and around underwater structures like tree stumps and corals.
Their diet predominantly consists of both terrestrial and aquatic insects. They also feed on small crayfish, fish eggs, zooplankton, snails, as well as leeches.
The bluegill’s coloring may vary from species to species. Its traits include the black spots on both the sides of its gills’ posterior and its dorsal fin’s base.
A trout’s usual diet includes soft-bodied aquatic invertebrates like flies, dragonflies, mollusks, stoneflies, caddisflies, and mayflies, and they even eat other fish such as minnows.
Numerous zooplankton species often contribute to a large part of their diet in the lakes. Large trouts also eat little animals like mice when they fall in.
Leeches are a source of food for trouts for the entire year, although they feed on them more extensively at certain times of the year.
Trouts belong to the Salmo, Salvelinus, and Oncorhynchus genera. These freshwater fish species have char and salmon as their close relatives.
Most of the trout, including the lake trout, live exclusively in freshwater rivers and lakes, although some species like steelhead can survive 2-3 years at sea.
They serve as a significant food source to both wildlife and humans. Their flesh is said to have good taste.
7. Garter Snake
Garter snakes belong to the Thamnophis genus in the Colubridae family; generally, small-medium-sized harmless snakes are commonly named the garter snakes.
They are indigenous to Central and North America and their length varies around 46-137 cm and weighs roughly 140g.
In the Nerodia genus, water snakes are their close relatives. They have complex pheromonal communication systems, and with their pheromone-scented trails, they can find other snakes.
Like any other snake, they are carnivores, and they can nearly eat any creature that they can overpower.
Their typical diet consists of earthworms, slugs, rodents, minnows, amphibians, lizards, earthworms, and leeches. They sometimes also feed on eggs.
Catfish are named after their prominent barbels that resemble the cat’s whiskers, and they are a diverse ray-finned fish group.
These opportunistic feeders feed on crayfish frogs, clams, snails, and various small fish. They also include algae and the floating remains of dead fishes and plants in their diet.
They love to eat leeches, and they can also be used as bait for them.
Their behavior and size range across their three species: South America’s piraíba, Southeast Asia’s Mekong giant fish, and Eurasia’s wels catfish. Both naked and armor-plated types don’t have scales.
These bottom feeders are generally negatively buoyant, which means they usually float rather than sink for their gas bladder is reduced, and they have a bony, heavy head.
Their body shapes vary, although they mostly have cylindrical bodies and a flattened ventrum that allows benthic feeding.
Turtles are a reptile order referred to as Testudines and are recognized by their shells that have developed mostly from their ribs.
They are predominantly omnivorous, and they feed on apples, worms, slugs, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, and crickets.
Leeches are an easy source of food to them and are one of their common predators.
Modern turtles can be divided into two distinct groups based on their head retraction, and they are named hidden neck turtles and side-necked turtles.
They can be spotted on most continents, a good deal of the ocean, and some islands.
Their genetic evidence usually closely associates them with birds and crocodilians and a fun fact is that their shells are mostly made up of bone.
The animals that eat leeches are ducks, smallmouth bass, crayfishes, redear sunfishes, bluegills, trouts, garter snakes, catfish, and turtles. Leeches are easy prey for these animals because they are mostly slow-moving and can be found in calm or slow-flowing waters.