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Leeches fit in with the phylum Annelida and are put in the subclass Hirudinea. They may be freshwater, marine or terrestrial animals. Like earthworms, they bear clitellum and are hermaphrodites, but few are hematophagous. The medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis and some related species have now been useful for clinical bloodletting since long time ago. You can find few species also who don't prey on human blood, however they prey on some invertebrates. Haemophagic leeches attach for their hosts until they are fully fed, and chances are they fall off to the ground. The human body of a leech is made up of 34 segments. The anterior end of the body is surrounded by an oral sucker which comprises about six segments. The oral sucker is employed for attaching to the host's body and for feeding followed by releasing an anaesthetic which prevents the host from feeling the leech. They use a variety of mucus and suction to remain attached with host's body and secrete an anticlotting enzyme known as hirudin in the blood of the host. Leeches are hermaphrodites. Reciprocal fertilisation occurs included, and sperm transfer occurs during copulation. During the act of reproduction, the leech playing the section of male will produce a sperm sac at the base of the tail, and the leech is acting as female will bite it off. They also use their clitellum like earthworms to put on their eggs and forming cocoons.

During reproduction, they choose spermatophore which stores sperm. During the act of copulation, one leech will shoot its spermatophore to the clitellar region of the opposing leech where in fact the sperm is likely to make their way towards the female reproductive organs. The digestive tract starts from the jaws situated on the ventral surface of the human body at the anterior end. The jaws are attached with the pharynx which joins oesophagus extending to crop and then gizzard. The gizzard then joins the intestine which finally terminates into the posterior sucker. The crop is the extension of a stomach which acts like storage chamber. Leeches can store blood five times more than its actual body size, and since they produce an anticoagulant, the blood remains there in the liquid state. The medicinal leeches can stay alive for around couple of years with blood stored within their crop. Predatory leeches bear a retractile proboscis within their mouth. These species are ambush predators who lie in wait for the prey and then use their proboscis in a spear-like fashion. Earlier it absolutely was believed they carry gut bacteria to carry out the break down of blood in the gut, but studies have demonstrated that their gut secretes exopeptidases. Not absolutely all species suck the blood of animals, but 90% of the leeches are proven to feast upon the dead and decaying bodies of amphibians, reptiles and waterfowl. The utilization of leeches in medicine started about 2,500 years ago. The saliva of leech has a protein known as hirudin which acts being an anticoagulant. It is also made by recombinant technology in today's scenario. Injections of recombinant hirudin are made to those individuals who're allergic or are not able to tolerate heparin.

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