I hate leeches.
Ever since I first saw leeches on a nature documentary, the idea that these gruesome creatures existed sent a shudder of disgust down my spine.
The wiggling bodies, gyrating around like a possessed dancer, hunting for their next victim.
Nightmarish black with a slippery and shiny sheen, like some ancient swamp monster from the deep.
If that wasn’t enough to frighten you, it’s all topped off with blood sucking vampiric jaws. A miniature creature of horrors.
And they are after you! And your sweet delicious blood!
Now I don’t fear leeches for any of the reasons listed above, nor do I dislike unusual creatures. In fact I usually find creepy crawlies fascinating.
During my life I have kept some rather unusual pets, including tarantulas, scorpions and even a hive of bees.
What I hate is the idea of having a parasitic creature hidden somewhere on my body, feeding on my blood. It makes my spine shudder.
The fear of getting one on me is always in the back of my mind when I’m out hiking. But somehow after exploring some pretty wet and wild locations, I’ve managed to avoid them. Until now!
The bloody story begins
We were down visiting the West Coast Tasmanian town of Strahan for the weekend.
Our aim was to have a nice and relaxing family weekend away. And Strahan is the perfect place to unwind, that’s for sure!
We had scheduled a day of cruising around the UNESCO world heritage listed wilderness with Gordon River Cruises on Sunday.
So we had Saturday free to explore Strahan. We decided to visit the local waterfall, known as Hogarth Falls.
And this is where our bloody story begins!
The leeches ambush!
Hogarth Falls was a lovely outdoor adventure. It’s a stunning short walk through some of Tasmania’s temperate rainforest.
Our visit was in the middle of winter. So the excess rain water had the river flowing nicely and the waterfall was an absolutely raging torrent.
It also turned the walking path into a muddy water logged mess. The perfect environment for our sneaky ambush predator to thrive.
Now we can’t be sure when or how the little bugger got onto me, but it had plenty of time to make its move.
I was stopping a lot to photograph the scenery. And the place is full of low hanging ferns that I had to keep ducking under. Or maybe a ground assault while walking through another muddy puddle? Who knows? It had plenty of opportunity to latch on though.
I guess we’ll never really know the full story?
The frightful discovery
After our nice rainforest walk, we had one tired kid. And decided to head back and relax at our lovely Strahan Village hotel room.
Unbeknownst to us, we had an unwanted guest along for the ride.
Back in the hotel room, I was kicking back on our comfy bed, watching some random home renovation show on TV. I was enjoying a nice mid-afternoon snack of corn chips.
Basically I was just zoning out, not really watching the TV show and stuffing my face with food.
I must have been chilling out for at least an hour or so at this time.
Upon moving my hand I noticed a little shiny blob between the webbing of my middle fingers. I knew exactly immediately what it was!
My luck had run out! I had finally been leeched!
Springing into action
I sprung into action! Heroically I got up, walked calmly to the bathroom, and safely removed the leech and forgot about the whole gruesome scenario.
Nah! That’s a big fat lie!
I panicked and reacted like a startled Gazelle! I sprang up off the bed. Bolted to the bathroom as quick as my legs could take me and then proceeded to stare at the gross blood filled black leech blob between my fingers.
In my panic I blanked out all of my knowledge of removing leeches properly. I gripped the little bugger as hard as I could and yanked!
Probably not the best way to react, but at that moment, I didn’t care.
My hand was soon covered in blood thanks to the Hirudin (anticoagulant) from the leeches saliva, but I would have my revenge!
Scooping the bloated leech up in some toilet paper, I proceeded outside to destroy my new enemy. I ripped the sneaky bugger in half with my bare hand and it felt good!
The paranoia stage
My satisfaction was short lived however. Paranoia set in!
What if that wasn’t the only leech? Are there more on me? In my clothing? My shoes? Backpack? Attacking my family?
A full scale man hunt began. I checked everywhere and then double checked again.
There might even have been a nude twirl in front of the bathroom mirror looking for more.
My paranoia stayed for at least a few hours, until my brain finally decided the room and ourselves where leech free.
Surviving the attack
My hand didn’t stop bleeding for around 2 hours. It was a small but constant trickle that just didn’t seem to want to stop.
Finally, after what seemed like ages, the wound sealed itself up and I was left with a small puncture wound and a very swollen hand.
As for my fate, I had survived my very first leech attack. And I live to fight another day.