We recently heard from a reader in New Jersey. He explained that he found a worm lying in a ball on his couch. He doesn’t know where the specimen came from, but since he has dogs he thinks it’s possible that one of the dogs brought the worm in from outside. He wants to make sure that this creature isn’t something to stress about. The specimen is brown and slimy looking:
Based on the appearance of this creature, we think it might be a leech or maybe an earthworm. Both earthworms and leeches are closely related and have segmented, soft bodies that lengthen and contact using muscle. Both also have a clitellum, which is a raised band of segments that contain the reproductive organs. While the specimen our reader found has some resemblance to an earthworm, we think it’s more likely that this is a leech. In addition to a clitellum, leeches have suckers on both ends, which they use as adhesive devices.
There are over 700 species of leeches. The majority of leeches live in freshwater environments, but some species prefer marine or terrestrial habitats. About 75% of leeches are considered parasites because they attach to a host using their suckers and then feed on the host’s blood. It is possible that this leech, if it is actually a leech, was attached to our reader’s dog. If our reader thinks this might be the case, then he should check his dogs for other leeches. He can also take his dogs to the vet to be examined thoroughly by a professional.
To wrap up, one of our readers found a worm on his couch that we think might be a leech. This creature might have come from his dogs, so we advise him to check for more leeches and take his dogs to the vet if necessary.