Lachrymose Leeches
Biological information

Lake Lachrymose


Generally small fish; known to eat humans


Lachrymose leeches are a fictional species of leech that inhabit the central part of Lake Lachrymose.[1] Though playing a significant part in The Wide Window, they are also mentioned in several other books in the series, including The Reptile Room and The Beatrice Letters.

The Lachrymose leech is a sightless, anthropophagous leech that travels in social groups and gregariously attacks its larger prey. It is predatory (rather than hemophagic, or "blood-sucking"), generally preying on small fish.[2] The leech's body is made up of roughly sixty annuluses (body rings), is of a lightish color,[3] and has two sets of vela (veil-like frills) along its midsection whose purpose is unspecified. The body is also slightly longer than a human finger, though whether this is at its fully extended state or not is likewise unspecified.[4]

The Lachrymose leech feeds on humans who have eaten within an hour of entering their territory. According to Aunt Josephine, they can "smell even the smallest bit of food from far, far away".[2] This corresponds with chemoreception (olfactory stimulus triggered by certain food chemicals), a trait found in actual species of leech.

The Lachrymose leech is described as having "six rows of very sharp teeth",[2] which indicates that it is probably of the order Gnathobdellae, whose species have several jaws of minuscule, sharp teeth (this order includes the medicinal leech). Also like the medicinal leech, the Lachrymose leech has an anterior sucker (that is, only one mouth).

Ike Anwhistle was eaten alive by the Lachrymose leeches shortly before the Baudelaires' arrival to the city of Lake Lachrymose,[5] leaving the orphans' third guardian, Josephine Anwhistle, a widow. During their residence with Josephine, Count Olaf (disguised as Captain Julio Sham) claimed his leg was eaten off by Lachrymose leeches; this, however, was part of his ruse to hide his ankle tattoo and curry Josephine's sympathy. In the end, Josephine herself was eaten alive by the Lachrymose leeches.[6]


  1. p. 164, The Wide Window
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 p. 32, The Wide Window
  3. Snicket describes the leeches as resembling fingers lit by the moonlight on p. 166, and the photo in The Beatrice Letters portrays the leech as whitish, as do Brett Helquist's illustrations.
  4. p. 166, The Wide Window
  5. p. 5, The Wide Window
  6. Some fans debate whether or not Josephine was really eaten (since the children do not witness her death), but on p. 210 of The Wide Window Snicket writes, "I wish I could write...that Aunt Josephine...miraculously escaped from the Lachrymose Leeches. But it was not so."