24-hour emergency service, 365 days of the year: 800.262.2922

Medicinal Leeches

Raised in the lab for medical use

24-Hour Order Hotline: 800.262.2922

Carolina Biological Supply Company is the exclusive U.S. distributor of leeches from Biopharm—a pioneer in medicinal leech provision and an innovator in cultivating medicinal leeches of the highest clinical standards for restoration of venous circulation in reconstructive, cosmetic, and plastic surgery. Carolina provides a complete solution to leeches and their provisions.

Leech, Medicinal/Hospital*

(Item #141774)

$15.25 on orders below 50
$14.50 on orders of 50+

Laboratory raised for medical use. The minimum order is 7 leeches. Biopharm™ medicinal leeches arrive packed in HirudoGel, a substance that keeps the animals in a clean, well-oxygenated, moist matrix. You may leave the leeches in the gel for 2 to 3 days if kept cool, or you may transfer them to a clean container filled with clean water for longer refrigerated storage.

* The FDA regulates medicinal leeches as biomedical devices. They should only be used under the direction of a medical professional in a hospital setting. For medicinal leeches for classroom use visit www.carolina.com.

Compact Laboratory Refrigerator

(Item #701569)

$365

This clear-door refrigerator is well-suited for medicinal leeches. It features 7 thermostat settings to keep the temperature where leeches need it (5–10° C) and 5 removable racks to create a spacious storage bin.

Capacity, 3.4 cu ft. Dimensions, 33-13/100" H × 19" W × 18-1/4" D.

Leech Locker®

(Item #141779)

$11.25

Water changes are efficient, and transport of medicinal leeches is easy with this locker. Each one holds 30–50 leeches.

HirudoSaltâ„¢

(Item #141778)

$12.25

Add HirudoSalt to distilled water in a proportion of 0.5 g to 1 L to create ideal holding conditions for leeches. One packet is sufficient for 50 L of holding solution.

Easy Clean Leech Container 

(Item #141781)

$22.50

New! This nested container set makes caring for leeches quick and easy. It features an inner container with tiny perforations that allow water and small particles to drain while preventing leeches from escaping. The outer container holds 650 mL of water. The set supports up to 15 leeches.

24-Hour Order Hotline: 800.262.2922

Order Any Day, Any Time

  • 24-hour Emergency Service

    Carolina offers 24-hour emergency service 365 days a year. Calls to the after-hours pager (800.262.2922) will be returned immediately.

  • Next Morning Delivery

    Most orders received between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday can be shipped for delivery the following morning. Call 800.262.2922.

  • How About Fees?

    Emergency fees apply to:

    - Orders requiring same-day delivery
    - Orders requiring immediate service but received after 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday
    - Orders received on holidays and weekends

  • Please Note:

    All orders are noncancelable and nonrefundable. Leeches cannot be returned. Leeches are shipped for immediate delivery to all parts of the United States except Hawaii. (Living material shipped to Hawaii requires a Hawaii Department of Agriculture permit. Please call 808.586.0844.) 

Leeches Are Beneficial

Did you know leech comes from the word laece, meaning "physician"? Medicinal leeches (e.g., Hirudo verbena, Hirudo medicinalis) have been used in medical practice since the 19th century, and medicinal leech therapy (MLT) is centuries old.

In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved and began regulating these bloodsucking aquatic animals as medical devices to be used only under the direction of medical professionals in hospital settings.

Leeches are primarily beneficial in the removal of locally congested blood in delicate areas. Leech saliva contains substances that anesthetize the wound, dilate the blood vessels to increase blood flow, and prevent the blood from clotting. The resulting wound is painless and will bleed for an average of 10 hours, mimicking venous circulation, relieving congestion, and allowing the restoration of normal blood flow.

Leeches are especially useful in plastic surgery to minimize scarring and in grafting procedures where the prolonged bleeding induced by a leech’s bite allows the graft to reestablish its own circulation.

For additional details, download A Guide to Applying, Maintaining, and Storing Medicinal Leeches.

When Your Leeches Arrive

How to Change the Water

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect when I receive the leeches?

Biopharm™ medicinal leeches arrive packed in HirudoGel, a substance that keeps the animals in a clean, well-oxygenated, moist matrix. You may leave the leeches in the gel for 2 to 3 days if kept cool, or you may transfer them to a clean container filled with clean water for longer refrigerated storage. 

Do I have to refrigerate the leeches?

It’s best to keep the medicinal leeches in a refrigerator or another cool, dark place until you need them. They will survive for weeks, sometimes months, in cool temperatures (5° C to 10° C is ideal).

Can I use tap water in the leech container?

Avoid keeping leeches in tap water, mineral water, or carbonated water. You may use high-quality, bottled spring water to maintain the leeches, although this is not ideal for long-term storage. The recommended maintenance solution for the medicinal leech is distilled water mixed with HirudoSalt. Do not use distilled water alone because it will interfere with the osmotic balance of the leeches.

How often should I change the water?

Change the water/salt solution every 2 to 3 days or if the water begins to look cloudy. Watch the video above demonstrating a water change.

Do I need to feed the leeches?

Leeches can live for several months from a single meal, so feeding them isn’t necessary.

What type of container should I use to store the leeches?

Store medicinal leeches in a secure container such as the Easy Clean Leech Container or the Leech Locker. Leeches can squeeze through small openings to escape. The best container is one with a wide mouth, which allows easy access when dispensing leeches. A container may be covered with a piece of cotton fabric or fine mesh held in place with a sturdy rubber band. If you’re using a solid lid, we advise perforations, but they must be very small.

How many leeches can I keep in a container?

As a general guide, do not place more than 50 leeches into a 2.5 L container.

24-Hour Order Hotline: 800.262.2922