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How to store and take care of leeches

Leeches are very sensitive and vulnerable animals. The most important are environmental conditions; they shouldn’t be exposed onto too high or too low temperatures. They mustn’t be placed in the direct sunlight. The place in which you keep them, shouldn’t be very well illuminated (either with sunlight or lamplight) but must be noiseless and peaceful.

Water quality is an essential factor in leech breeding. Spring water appears to be the most proper for leeches as it is non – chlorinated and free of chemical fertilisers. Tap water is also commonly used, but must be overboiled and cooled down beforehand. Distilled water is allowed as well (salted with sea salt; 0,3 – 0,5 g per 1l). Optimal water temperature is 8 – 15 Celsius degrees. Higher temperature accelerates the metabolism of these animals, so the water is likely to be polluted more often. It also increases the oxygen consumption.

Leeches can not stand heavy metals, so the containers in which they are being kept should be made of glass, ceramic or plastic – high temperatur and disinfectant resistant. Water ought to be changed regularly once a week. If it becomes cloudy or shows the signs of pollution or microbiological contamination then the leeches must be flushed with pure water every 2 -3 days (and the water needs to be changed even a few times a day). In that case, the jar / container may need to be disinfected with 5 % potassium permanganate solution (fill the jar with the solution for 2 – 3 hours, then flush it with pure running water and put the animals back into it).

In the jar containing 1 liter of water, about 15 – 20 leeches can be kept. It is important to remember that they must breathe, so the small openings are advised (max. 2 mm big).

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