For the first time, filmmakers in the forests of Borneo's Mount Kinabalu have documented the so-repulsive-it's-captivating behavior of a large, red, worm-guzzling predator. While it remains unclassified by science, the animal is known to the area's tribespeople, fittingly, as the "Giant Red Leech."
Allow me to introduce this brief but unsettling clip, recently captured by BBC filmmakers for the new series 'Wonders of the Monsoon,' by stating the obvious: Nature can be gross. Some of us appreciate this fact more than others. Speaking as someone who maintains a steady diet of strange, violent, and/or noxious nature footage, it usually takes a special kind of grotesquery to make me squirm. With that in mind, be apprised that this 90-second clip of a Giant Red Leech consuming the entire 70-cm length of a plump, glistening, iridescent earthworm had me making this face pretty much the entire time.
For more info, we turn to Sarah Knapton at The Telegraph:
The Giant Red Leech is one of the biggest in the world. The specimen captured on camera was around 30cm long but experts believe they could grow larger.
They have grown so big that they no longer simply suck blood but now actively hunt giant blue worms and suck them down like spaghetti. The worm it is eating is a whopping 78cm.
The new footage shows the leech detecting a worm's trail and following the scent like a sniffer dog.
When it encounters its prey it quickly latches on and moves its lips up and down the iridescent blue body.
"It was either searching for an end to grab, or was working out whether it was too big to eat" said documentary director Paul Williams.
"When it found an end it started to suck. It was incredible."
That this ambitious leech is roughly half the length of the worm it's eating only makes the footage more impressive.
A big thanks to Paul Williams and the Giant Red Leech for this fascinating footage – and for ruining spaghetti for everyone, forever.
BONUS: Compare the end-on technique of the Giant Red Leech with the side-bite employed by this Japanese Mountain Leech: