A woman who owns 35 pet leeches has shared how she uses them to treat her mum’s arthritis and knee pain.
Marie Bailey, 23, first started keeping leeches two years ago as she has a passion for unconventional pets.
To begin, she adopted two Asian buffalo leeches, the second largest species, which can stretch up to 20 centimetres-long.
Next, Marie allowed her two adoptees to breed, the result of which has created 35 pet leeches that she keeps in tanks in her home.
Marie feeds the leeches with her own blood and also feeds them on her mother, Luisa Bailey, 60, as a treatment for her arthritis and knee pain.
The 23-year-old, who lives in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, said: ‘They’re medicinal leeches so when my mum has issues with her knee she feeds them.
‘She has arthritis in her fingers.
‘If I feed the leeches on her fingers the pain goes away for three to four months.’
The reason for this is that leeches have anticoagulant properties. They thin the blood and this can treat many ailments including blood clots and circulation issues.
The leeches only need to feed about twice a year, so it isn’t much work at all.
‘I split them up into groups of about three to four and rotate them,’ she explained.
‘It stings a bit and is uncomfortable for about 30 seconds but it goes away really quickly.’
Marie’s mum Luisa was sceptical at the beginning but after seeing her daughter feed them she realised that it wasn’t an issue.
‘I fed my first leeches on myself first,’ she added. ‘I think she saw that and realised that it was completely OK.’
Marie is aware that most people find the animals unpalatable, but she thinks they are cute and hopes she can change the way people perceive them.
‘It’s a bit like having fish,’ she explained. ‘You can’t interact with them like cats and dogs, but I do love them.
‘I guess they’re just part of the animal family. When you know them and you look at their little faces they’re quite cute, but I’m aware that they aren’t for everyone.
‘At the end of the day I’d just like people to understand them more and what they can be used for and not see them as horrible monsters.’
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