Many of us love to seek out exotic destinations for our vacations, especially those that are rich in wildlife. Some parts of the world are home to stunning waterfalls and endangered rainforests that are a joy to behold. However, not so joyful are some of the unpleasant creatures that live in these ecosystems.
While they are truly at home, and a vital component of the landscape, and according to The Telegraph, is a pest to humans. Many a tourist has suffered from an unseen leech who has traveled up a trouser leg and sucked on an ankle or two as the day goes on. While they are not dangerous if removed properly, the bites can be painful and the bleeding after the leech is removed can be copious.
Many of us fear snakes more than leeches, and rightly so. There are numerous snakes in the world and it is still possible to be seriously injured in exposed areas from a snake bite if no anti-venom medication is administered in a timely manner. However, while leeches are keen to attach themselves to humans, snakes are a bit more reticent. They are quite happy to leave us alone so long as we leave them alone, and that’s fine by us!
25 Galle District, Sri Lanka
Visitors to this beautiful place report that treks through the local landscape involve constant stops to remove leeches from the body. Salt socks are recommended to stop them adhering, but they are a constant presence in this area, and to be fair, it is their natural landscape!
Visitors come to Galle to experience a rainforest environment firsthand points out Trip Advisor and it is a splendid place to do this, but as it is a major water catchment area for the local environs, leeches love it as much as the tourist.
24 Sabah, Malaysia
Leeches love a damp environment and Borneo Nature Tours reminds us that Sabah can experience a lot of rainfall, making it a paradise for leeches. If it has not rained for a while, you may be lucky, but it is worth investing in the not so attractive leech socks to make them visible if they do appear.
It is worth bearing in mind that although they mostly come up from the damp ground, they also climb up on foliage, so brushing against a tree or bush can result in an unwelcome visitor.
23 Chikkamagalura, India
This is a beautiful destination, full of natural delights, including waterfalls. During the rainy season, it is a haven for leeches and anyone who treks through the area is advised to take all possible precautions to avoid a bite.
It is quite a journey to get to Chikkamagalura remarks Blank Slate Chronicles, but once the effort has been made, it is worth it. Leeches are going to appear, so wear appropriate boots and socks and keep vigilant, the views will make it worthwhile.
22 Kathmandu, Nepal
The Roofs of Kathmandu reminds us that this lovely spot offers beautiful lush vegetation, but the lush forests and damp environment are also home to some of our nibbling friends. They have been found in the shower and bathrooms in hotels as well, so keep an eye on any damp area.
Of course, the locals wander around with bare feet all year round and don’t seem to be bothered by the creatures. However, those who are antsy of bites might find the discomfort of gaiters worth the peace of mind.
21 Dorrigo National Park, Australia
Dorrigo National Park is a lush rainforest of the north coast area of New South Wales in Australia. The area is full of greenery and waterfalls, excellent for walking, hiking, photography and bird watching. It is also home to some rather acrobatic leeches notes Courtney Adamo of Somewhere Slower.
Contrary to what most might think, all leeches don’t just sit and wait for a warm body to brush up against them. They have fabulous heat and carbon dioxide (what you breathe out) sensors and know you’re coming. They are ready to jump when you come within range.
20 Romney Marsh, England
England is probably another place you wouldn’t expect to find leeches, but according to The Telegraph, you can find plenty of them in Romney Marsh. Set at the coast of the English Channel, Romney Marsh is a rolling countryside of 100 square miles of great hiking, biking, and history for those interested in ancient history and old churches.
It is also famous for its sheep, who apparently isn’t too bothered by the leeches in the marsh. It is also said to have been a favorite place for smugglers in days gone by.
19 Montezuma Well, Arizona
Certainly not a place you would expect to find leeches is north of Phoenix in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. But Desert USA states that here among the high country ponds lies a lovely river basin and wetlands that were once home to the Sinagua people. Here you will find Montezuma’s Well and the remains of large pueblos and cliff dwellings.
The Well flows with more than 1.5 millions gallons of water each day. And although the water is a warm 74 degrees, jumping in may result in a few taggers on as the National Park Service says that there are plenty of the little blood-suckers in the water plants and along the shoreline.
18 Cherrapunji, India
Cherrapunjee informs us that Cherrapunji is synonymous with the leech and there is a story about the evolution of leeches that is told in the area. Apparently, a lazy man wanted to sleep for a long time but was struggling so he removed his eyes and hung them on a tree.
A crow flew by and ate the eyes and when the man awoke and could not find his eyes, he vowed to seek revenge by sucking blood whenever he could. The locals refer to a lazy man as a ‘leech without eyes’.
17 Khao Sok, Thailand
KhaoSok.com warns that when its rainforests are damp and humid enough, the leech is a common sight. Tourists are warned of the creatures, although the bite of a leech is not very harmful, it can cause a bite and leave marks.
The leech is a relative of the common earthworm and is a hermaphrodite, meaning that it contains the components of both male and female reproductive systems. Once a leech has mated, it forms a cocoon, attaches itself snuggly and waits for the eggs to hatch.
16 Sinharaja, Sri Lanka
Miles to the Wild describes the Sinharaja forest reserve as a perfect habitat for leeches, so visitors need to be prepared. There is plenty of moisture in the forest, and pools and waterfalls are part of the attraction of the area. Guides recommend using salt in socks or wearing long leech socks to make the creatures more visible.
It is worth the risk though, as Sinhajara has deep forestation where visitors experience life from a different age. The true beauty of nature without modern interference is worth a dodgy pair of socks, surely.
15 Gangtok, India
Gangtok is home to some beautiful and stunning landscape points out High Places. The third highest point in the world dominates the scenery, but the areas are prone to rainfall. This makes it a happy home for the leech, but the contrast between rugged mountain and rushing rivers is worth the odd clinging creature.
In Kanchendzonga National Park, you might see more than a leech. The park is also home to many other animals including red pandas, snow leopards, and even a barking deer!
14 Kerala, India
Kerala is a popular vacation spot in India, and also popular for leeches. Locals walk through the forests using tobacco leaves wrapped around their legs because it apparently repels them! If you don’t fancy that, you could try rubbing tea tree oil into the skin as this is not popular with a leech.
13 Poon Hill, Nepal
Nepal is a hikers’ paradise and a wonderful place to see the natural world at its best. There is a popular hiking circuit in Poon Hill says Migrationology that takes you through mountain villages that seem untouched by modern civilization. There are a variety of climates and landscapes to enjoy in the area, and a trip to Poon Hill will leave the hiker rewarded if exhausted.
It’s an arduous hike that will take several days, and it can be very wet. This makes it a prime location to encounter leeches, so however tired you may be, remember to watch out for the pesky bloodsuckers.
12 Australian Outback
The Aussie Outback is a notorious haunt for leeches warns IB Times, and they are the bane of many a bushwalker. They can attach to any part of the body, even the eyelid. There are 40 types of leeches in Australia, so you have a high chance of meeting one.
However unpleasant these creatures may be, they have been hailed as a medical miracle in Australia, and as they are so prevalent. They were the last resort for doctors in the past, but patients who are at risk of losing extremities generally get over their squeamishness when presented with leeches as a last resort.
According to See the World in my Eyes, Nepalese trekkers refer to leeches as Vampire Worms. Visit Nepal in the rainy season and the damp ground and atmosphere is a perfect environment for the leech. After a hard day of hiking, the last thing anyone wants to find is a full, fat leech attached to their body.
The problem with flicking the creatures off is that there is a lot of bleeding afterward and they seem to attack mostly from the ground in Nepal, so socks, gaiters and any other method of protection is strongly recommended.
10 Snakes: Majorca, Spain
The Express reminds us that Majorca, off the coast of Spain, is home to a number of snake species. There is a water snake and also a false smooth snake that is venomous. They can be up to three feet in length so can be a bit of a shock if they are discovered.
Horseshoe snakes are also a pest on the island and have been found in gardens and basements and on paths and walkways. They might not be poisonous, but they can be scary as they are quite aggressive.
9 Snakes: Australia
There are over 170 different snakes that are native to Australia according to Australia Geographic, and some have the most poisonous venom of any snakes in the world. Despite a large number of snakes, bites are relatively rare and thanks to the existence of anti-venom treatments, deaths are also very rare.
A snake doesn’t really want to bite a human, it would rather wander off and find a quiet place to find a meal. However, it will retaliate with a bite if cornered by a human or if a human injures it by mistake.
8 Snakes: Costa Rica
There are many snakes in Costa Rica and according to Costa Rica.org there are around 130 varieties. They are bright, colorful and some of them are very poisonous. Venomous or not, Costa Rican snakes seem to attack, and this is a concern for people visiting there.
The rainforests are full of snakes, especially when it is raining, they love the conditions. If you are planning a trek through the rainforests, it is worth finding a guide who is well aware of safe routes and how to react if you come across a snake.
7 Snakes: Africa
Africa is home to many snakes and a lot of venomous ones. They are an important part of the African ecosystem, so have to be treated with respect. Snake-Facts reminds us that most African snakes are not poisonous, and it is possible to co-exist with them if they are treated with respect.
The Black Mamba is an aggressive snake, and although not one of the most poisonous, it is feared by locals for its ferocity. However, most human fatalities on the continent come from the Puff Adder. They are adept at camouflage, despite their enormous size.
6 Snakes: The Philippines
The tropical islands of the Philippines provide a perfect location for a wide variety of snakes. There are cobras and vipers on land and a number of sea snakes as well according to Animals. One of the most dangerous is the yellow-lipped sea wraith that can produce ten times the lethal dose of venom needed to kill a human.
There is also a freshwater snake in the Philippines that lives in the volcanic waters of Lake Taal. Scarily enough, the reticulated python can grow up to thirty feet in length.
5 Snakes: The Middle East
Science Direct points out that the Middle East has many variances of the landscape, including a huge amount of desert, but also wetlands, mountains, and forests. One desert-loving species is the horned desert viper, which is very happy in the desert but is also partial to a visit to an oasis.
Like the Levant viper, it is camouflaged and difficult to spot. The Levant Viper hisses loudly and can emit a dangerously venomous bite. It isn’t too fussy about what landscape it inhabits, and its bite is deadly.
4 Snakes: Central Asia
There are many deaths from snake bites in Central Asia according to World Wildlife, not because there are more snakes here, but because they tend to live where humans are. Asia is home to Russell’s Viper, the Common Krait, the Saw-Scaled Viper and the Indian cobra.
While they do a great job at keeping vermin in check, they can wipe out a human with one bite. Although the King Cobra is an inhabitant of Central Asia, it is a shy snake and prefers its own company in the jungle, so is less likely to be spotted.
3 Snakes: India
There are a lot of snakes in India according to Walk Through India. There are over 270 varieties in fact and 60 of these can kill a human. While they prefer lizards or frogs, they are known to bite humans and in fact, there are often as many as 50,000 deaths in India each year as a result of snake bites.
They come in all colors and live in a variety of locations, so can be found in the most unexpected places. There are vipers, cobras and sea snakes. India has them all.
2 Snakes: Tasmania
There are three species of snakes that live in Tasmania reminds Parks.Tas.gov. There is the Tiger Snake, the Copperhead, and the White-Lipped Whip Snake and all these are poisonous to humans. However, there are very few deaths from snake bites here. The last person to die was in the 1970s and it was a snake handler who was working with the beasts at the time.
The snakes are happy to get on with their lives and slither away from humans and avoid them, and no doubt the humans are as happy about that as the snakes!
1 Snakes: The Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are home to a variety of snake says I Eye News, but luckily, none of them are venomous. Although, they can be scary if you come across one. In fact, one of them sounds quite endearing, the Little Cayman Ground Boa.
There are hundreds of amazing species on the Cayman Islands and it is a paradise for those with a penchant for flora and fauna, so putting up with the odd non-venomous snake is surely acceptable.
References: Tripadvisor, Theroofsofkathmandu, Lonelyplanet, Hawaiisfishes, Adventureinhawaii