Mai Fahmy, currently a postdoctoral researcher at Fordham University and a visiting scientist at the American Museum of Natural History, took video of leeches in Madagascar in 2017. Her 10 second clip, taken on a whim, turned out to be the first known recorded visual evidence of leeches jumping. Read more and watch in Videos Show That Leeches Can Jump in Pursuit of Blood.

In 2023, Dr. Fahmy was again in Madagascar, and she took out her phone to film a pair of leeches on a leaf. Within seconds, she was seeing the same move again — one of the leeches bunched itself up and took to the air.

[T]he presence of a big, warm bag of blood nearby can get leeches pretty riled up. They will start the leech version of running, a furious inchworming along, to try to get closer to you.

“That can be pretty frantic,” said Dr. Fahmy. “And when there are a lot of leeches, it can be kind of overwhelming in the field to notice that you are being pursued so intensely by so many little guys.”


Jane Martinez is director of media relations and deputy University spokesperson at Fordham. She can be reached at [email protected] or (347) 992-1815.