Friday, November 11, 2011

Attacked by a Blood-Thirsty Leech

OK, OK...I know this darling koala doesn't look like a blood-thirsty leech but this cutie, or rather my excitement at seeing this cutie, is the reason I was attacked.  After driving through many eucalyptus forests and not seeing even one koala, finally, on the road to Cape Otway, we saw quite a few people out of their cars, in the grass, snapping photos of a koala resting low in a bush.  Now I have heard about the myriad of plants and animals in Australia that can kill you or cause you major discomfort and I was wary of stepping in the grass. Figuring that, since none of the other tourists were screaming with pain, they had already scared away whatever snakes or spiders might be in the area and since my hiking boots, thick socks and khaki trousers offered more protection than their shorts and flip-flops, it was OK to take my turn on the path they had forged in the shin-high grass to get a koala photo. 

Hours later, as we were scoping out a place where glow worms live, my husband asked me how I got mud on my pants. My left trouser leg, sock and hiking boot were covered not in mud but in blood. My blood!!  I had felt nothing.  No pain.  No sensation of wet or warm or cold.  But there was a rather sizeable glob of coagulated blood...and no leech present. Confirmed by locals, including medical staff, that it was, indeed a leech bite, the site continued to bleed for several hours.  All in all, a worrisome, interesting but ultimately harmless experience.  Still, it seems the guidebooks and travel websites should warn about these creatures.  So here is my warning to you: there are leeches in Australia!!

Being attacked by a leech is definitely messy but less painful and perhaps less dangerous than getting bitten by common blood-sucking ticks or mosquitoes.  Our hotel manager gave me a bowl of salt water to wash the wound and both she and others warned that it might itch like crazy days later.  She said that a poultice of soap and sugar would draw out the poisons.  My bite never did itch but I'm still carrying a sliver of soap and a packet of sugar in my pocket.

 I took a photo, of course, but have decided not to publish it out of consideration to the squeamish among us.  Instead, here is the cute koala.  Enjoy. 


  1. Oh dear, so good to hear that it did cause no lasting harm!

  2. My husband thinks it's the coolest thing that happened on the trip.