Retired Pond

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Suckling leech

A pond in which leeches live after therapeutic use until their death is called a pensioner pond .


Leeches may only be used once for therapeutic purposes, otherwise the risk of infection from the drawn blood would be too high. Exposing the leeches to nature is prohibited, also because of the risk of infection. Many of the medicinally used leeches are killed by alcohol or freezing after use. To avoid killing the leeches, some breeding farms set up retirement ponds in which the animals can continue to live until they die. The construction of the pond must ensure that it is not possible for the leeches to get back into the natural cycle.


The maintenance of the pensioners' ponds is associated with costs and labor for the breeders, which is why such ponds were only installed occasionally. The released leeches must be regularly fed by the breeders, the pond must also be kept clean and dead animals removed from it promptly. Any offspring in retirees 'ponds may not be used medicinally, as the young animals are also at high risk of infection from the blood of the parents' generation. Some farms therefore reject this method, because for them the economic aspects of leech breeding are incompatible with the establishment of the costly and labor-intensive retirement ponds.

Prohibition and repeal

In October 2006, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices published new guidelines for dealing with therapeutically used leeches. The institute rated the risk of infected human or animal blood from the pensioners' ponds being released back into the wild as too high and issued a ban on setting up and operating such facilities. As a result, the therapists were forced to kill leeches that were once used.

Since therapists and patients in particular criticized the ban on pensioners' ponds, a compromise was worked out together with breeders and the authorities. The operation of the ponds was permitted again in 2015, subject to conditions. According to the new guidelines, the leeches must be quarantined for eight months before they can be used in the retirement pond.


Individual evidence

  1. a b Egelinfo 01/2015. (PDF; 138 kB) Biebertaler Leech Breeding, March 10, 2015, accessed on July 15, 2016 .
  2. Nadine Klikar: When the leech sticks to the dog. Main-Post, April 13, 2009, accessed on July 15, 2016 .
  3. Treatment methods. International Society for Leech Therapy eV, accessed on July 15, 2016 .
  4. Carolin Henneberg: The healing kiss of the leech. Offenbach-Post, June 20, 2016, accessed on July 15, 2016 .