This Leech Specializes in Feeding on Hippo Rectums

(Photo: Wired)

All things bright and beautiful; all creatures great and small. They are wonders to behold, including the majestic hippo butt leech. It burrows into a hippopotamus anus, plants itself deep inside its rectum, then feeds on the blood vessels along the wall.

Like the yeti, the hippo butt leech was once a creature of mystery. It was in only 2003 that explorers in South Africa confirmed the existence of the Placobdelloides jaegerskioeldi. You see, the hippo butt leech has very specific tastes. It will not live in any rectum, but only hippopotami rectums. Wired describes how these adventurers tracked down the hippo butt leech in its lair. The hunt reached its conclusion with the help of a local game warden:

“He knew that these crazy Americans were in the area trying to get a hippo ass leech,” says Siddall, the curator of invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History. “And they had to cull [a hippo] because it was hanging out in a community of people. So he had the presence of mind to cut its butt out.” You can see that very butt below (it’s not as bad as you think). That big leech is an adult, the others juveniles.

They found a leech unlike any other:

Now, while some leeches have strong jaws that serrate the flesh to get the blood flowing, the hippo-rectum variety just has a proboscis that it snakes into the vascular tissue. But it’s not hard like a mosquito’s mouthparts. Instead, it’s muscular—good and soft and flexible.

(Video Link)

Watch the hippo butt leech in action in this probing video from Wired.

-via VA Viper

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