Japan Mountain Leech vs. Giant Earthworm

While hiking in rugged mountains of the Japan Southern Alps I happened upon a life and death struggle between a very large earthworm and an equally large Japanese Mountain Leech. This was my first leech encounter in Japan and at the time I knew little about this interesting animal. The Japanese Mountain Leech is called yama-biru in Japanese and is known scientifically as Haemadipsa zeylanica japonica. Mountain Leech are quite at home outside of water and are most often found within dark, moist forests. The animal is especially active during the monsoonal rainy season (when I took this video). Blood sucking leech will readily go after farmers and hikers and will eagerly pursue their prey using a strange form of locomotion in which they toss their bodies end over end in rapid pursuit. They can chew right through socks and are quite relentless in their efforts to get a blood meal. Leeches are even known to drop from trees upon unsuspecting passersby! While some Mountain Leech have mouths designed for sucking, others (like the leech in this video) must swallow their prey whole.

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~ by softypapa on June 27, 2007.

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