Hand holding a leech cocoon which contains eggs

Hand holding a leech cocoon which contains eggs

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Credit: GEOFF TOMPKINSON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Leech cocoon. Gloved hand holding an egg cocoon of the medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis. The co- coon is made of a protective, sponge-like material which contains up to 20 eggs in a nutrient jelly. The mucous cocoon is produced by the clitellum body area of an adult leech. Eggs are laid by all adult leeches, as they are hermaphrodites, having both male and female sexual organs. The young leeches are ready to leave the cocoon after about a month. In breeding centres the young leeches are assisted out of the cocoon by workers gently squeezing on the cocoon. This is because leeches which are left to hatch by themselves in their mossy enclosures are difficult to find.

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Keywords: animal, cocoon, egg cocoon, hirudinea, hirudo medicinalis, invertebrate, invertebrates, leech, medicinal, medicinal leech, nature, wildlife, zoology

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