Category Archives: Clitellata

Xerobdella lecomtei Frauenfeld

European Land Leech (Xerobdella lecomtei)

The European Land Leech was described in 1867, the species once was said to be very common in the Austrian Alps but not easy to find because of its hidden way of life.

The species reached a size of about 4 cm, it lived hidden amongst fallen leaves where it hunted for smaller invertebrates like earthworms, fly larvae, or snails which then were either sucked out or even swallowed completely if small enough.

The last time a population worth mentioning was discovered was in the 1960s, in 2007 an juvenile individual was found (see photo) and since then only occasionally individuals were found in cooler higher forest areas.

The species disappeared from its habitat due to global warming which lead to a rise in temperatures of around 3°C since the 1960s, which again lead to the dehydration of the soil litter in which this species lived.

The European Land Leech is now very probably completely extinct, if not, it appears impossible to safe it as a species, so its extinction is inevitable either way.


Photo: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kutschera

(creative commons license (3.0))


edited: 16.09.2020