Borneo Rainforest Lodge offers additional activities for our guests.  If you feel more adventurous, you may like to extend your activities such as the Animal Spotting Drive, Extended Night Drive, Extended Night Walk and many others. 

One of the more infamous inhabitants of the tropical jungle, leeches are infact fascinating creatures, highly specialized and supremely adapted to life in the moist dark understory of the rainforest. As we shall see, they are largely undeserving of their fearsome reputation.

Leeches belong to the Phyllum Annelida, and are distantly related to earthworms. They are hermaphrodites, and have segmented bodies, no legs, and a sucker at each end of the body, which they use to attach themselves to substrates and ‘ loop ‘ along.

The sucker at the thinner or ‘head’ end surrounds mouthparts comprising well-developed jaws with small, saw-like teeth. When a leech locates its prey it punctures the skin, its salivary glands producing an anticoagulant to facilitate blood flow. This is the reason why leech bites may continue to bleed several hours after the leech has been removed. A leech may absorb several times its own weight in blood before dropping off, and it is thought that one meal can last up to six months or more. Favorite prey of terrestrial leeches includes forest mammals such as pigs and deer, and ground living birds.



There are at least nine species of leech in Borneo, including freshwater species such as the large buffalo leech ‘limatak’ or ‘ lintah ‘, found mostly in muddy water and lowland or coastal areas frequented by buffaloes. Two terrestrial species of leech are commonly encountered in Danum Valley Conservation Area.

The Tiger Leech ( haemadipsa picta ), known locally as ‘limatang ‘ or ‘pacat’ ( leaf leech ), because it is usually found on leaves of lower vegetation. Can grow to about 4cm ( 1.6”) long when stretched out, and sports green, yellow / orange and black stripes. Bite can be felt.

The Brown Leech ( haemadipsa zeylanica ) or ‘limatok’. Dark brown or black in colour, and shorter than its striped cousin. Most often seen on the forest floor. Bite painless.

(On Mt. Kinabalu lives Giant Red Kinabalu Leech, which can reach more than 30cm (12”) in length. Inhabiting the montane forest, the giant Red Kinabalu Leech is thought to feed only on fellow invertebrates, particularly earthworms!!)



Leeches leave their mouthparts behind if you pull them off in the middle of a meal….FALSE. It is perfectly safe to do this.

Leeches see or smell their prey….FALSE. Although most leech species do have several pairs of eyes, their main form of prey detection is thought to be by thermoreception, ie. Sensitivity to body heat, which is why warm blooded animals from their prey.

Leech bite hurts….SOMETIMES, when a slight stinging sensation is experienced as the leech punctures the skin. Many species however inject an anesthetic so the bite is not felt at all. Itching is sometimes experienced around the wound after the leech has fallen off.

There are more leeches in wet weather….PARTLY TRUE. More are certainly in evidence after heavy rain, as their moist bodies and thin skins require high humidity. During dry periods they hide deep in the leaf litter or soil of the forest floor to avoid desiccation.

- Wear long trousers tucked into sox when in the forest or better still use leech socks available from the shop.
- An insecticide like Baygon sprayed onto clothes will help repel leeches.
- If a leech is on you clothes or skin it can be removed by flicking it off when it in the loop position, or by burning it with cigarette, or by rubbing salt on it.
- If sticks to your fingers try scraping it off onto a tree or leaf.

In the 19th century leeches were used extensively in the west to reduce blood pressure and removed infection. Now days they are being reared in laboratories for their anticoagulant secretions, which are used in operations such as heart surgery. There is no evidence that leeches were ever applied medicinally in Borneo.



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