The waters of ARK are a dangerous place – and not just because many of the aquatic creatures will tear you apart with their teeth. There are also leeches lurking below the water’s surface, ready to cling onto you and your mounts. Like real-life leeches, they feed off your blood to stay alive while staying on your body from place to place.
If you realize a leech is on you or your mount, you should take it off immediately.
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How to Get a Leech Off in ARK
There are a couple of ways to remove leeches from your body and your mount. You should do this as soon as you notice they’re attached.
Leeches drain your health and stamina when they attach to you. It won’t kill you immediately, but you’ll notice your stats decreasing over time. If the leech isn’t removed, it will eventually kill you. When you respawn, you won’t have a leech on you anymore.
However, there are better ways to remove a leech.
How to Remove a Leech From Your Character
Leeches hate fire. You can use items with an active fire to remove the leech from your body. Most players have access to the Cooking Pot and the Campfire, so these are good places to get rid of the leech.
- Craft a Cooking Pot or Campfire.
- Move your character to stand near it.
- Step into the fire. Watch your health! If it gets too low, drink a medical brew. Keep an eye on the leech as well.
- Step out of the fire when your health is too low.
- Step back into the fire if the leech is still on your body. Watch for it to react to the flames and then disappear. You can turn the fire down and continue with the game at that point.
Remember that removing a leech from your body doesn’t neutralize the poison it uses on you. You need to prepare to cleanse yourself if you come across one of the toxic leeches.
How to Remove a Leech From Your Mount
Removing a leech from a mount is even easier than removing it from yourself. Since you don’t need accessories to take it off, you can just remove it.
- Approach your mount.
- Hold down the Use button.
- Choose Remove Leech.
Now you’ll be able to use your mount without any of the adverse side effects that come from the leech. If you have a leech on your body, and then it looks like it’s gone once you’ve dismounted, you probably have a leech on your mount.
If you have a leech on you and a friend on the server, they may be able to approach you and remove the leech from you similarly. Otherwise, you’ll have to use the fire.
How to Cure Leech Poisoning
Not all leeches will poison you. Generally, the diseased leeches are a more orange and red hue. They will give you Swamp Fever if they attach to you and transmit the disease.
If you get Swamp Fever, you’ll have a 20 percent reduction in your health, stamina, damage, and how much you can carry. You move faster but use more food, oxygen, and water. It is something that you should cure right away.
To cure the disease, drink a Lesser Antidote. You’ll have to craft it before you can consume it. Keep in mind that you can make a Mortar and Pestle quickly enough when you travel, but you’ll have to have somewhere to set it so you can use it.
- Unlock the engram to make crafting the Lesser Antidote an option. You must be a level 18 to unlock the engram.
- Place ten rare flowers, ten rare mushrooms, three leech blood, and one narcotic in the Mortar and Pestle. You can substitute three horns for the leech blood.
- Right-click on the Lesser Antidote recipe in the Mortar and Pestle.
- Choose an option to craft the Lesser Antidote.
Lesser Antidote used to spoil very quickly, but as of version 312.65, released in July 2020, it lasts for three days. Make sure to carry some with you if you’ll be near leeches. You can also make it in the Equus Saddle if need be.
How to Deal with Leeches in ARK
If you’re planning to go into areas with lots of leeches, ensure you have everything you need in your inventory before you start. First, make a few extra campfires. Next, stockpile Medical Brew and Lesser Antidote. Finally, know the tricks for dealing with leeches before stepping into the swamp.
Gathering Ingredients for the Antidote
Since you will have to make Lesser Antidote to cure yourself once you encounter a diseased leech, plan to have the ingredients necessary before you go if you can.
- You can kill and harvest leeches for their blood – but that doesn’t help you have the ingredients for the Lesser Antidote beforehand.
However, there are a couple of caves with healthy leech populations where you can farm it. Another way to do this is to kill a Woolly Rhino, Ammonite, or Deathworm. The Rhino and the Deathworm have horns you can use in the recipe. The Ammonite has bile you can substitute for leech blood.
- Narcotic is one of the most accessible ingredients to find. Just combine five narcoberries and one piece of spoiled meat in the Mortar and Pestle to make Narcotic.
- Rare Mushrooms and Rare Flowers are easiest to get from beaver dams, especially if you want to have more than a few. Just walk up and loot it. Beware, though – the beavers will chase you as soon as you touch their dams. Ensure you have an exit strategy to escape the fast, hungry creatures.
We used to dive off the cliffs near the beaver dams with a parachute. We’d angle it to land near our boat, board, and make haste far away with a stock of Rare Flowers and Mushrooms.
If you plan to harvest leeches for their blood, remember that you cannot get it from those attached to you, even after they’re removed. You will have to bring weapons or a tame who can kill leeches to take them down and harvest their blood.
Stockpiling Bug Repellant
Another way to help escape the notice of the leeches is to wear Bug Repellant when you think you might be near them. It’s easy to make since you only have to be a level 16 to access the engram – but the ingredients can take a little work. Like the Lesser Antidote, it can be made in the Mortar and Pestle.
- Gather six hair, pelt, or wool. You can harvest pelt from large creatures like Woolly Rhinos in the snow biome. Hair comes from giving yourself or another survivor a haircut. If you’d prefer to use wool, you can harvest it from an Ovis with shears. Add your choice into the Mortar and Pestle.
- Place two Narcotic into the Mortar and Pestle.
- Add four Citronal and four Rockarrots to the Mortar and Pestle. These can be acquired through growing your own crops. You’ll notice that you harvest seeds as you gather fiber. Build crop plots, plant your seeds, irrigate the plots, and fertilize your seeds. Eventually, you’ll have access to these crops for recipes.
- Right-click the Bug Repellant engram and choose a crafting option.
Bug Repellant will spoil in five hours if you leave it in your inventory. Transfer it into a tame dinosaur’s creature’s inventory to increase it to 20 hours. You can save it for two days up to twenty days if you store it in less mobile options like the Preserving Bin or Refrigerator.
One way that players avoid having a leech attach to them in the first place is to stand on the back of a large tame in the swamps. You want to make sure it’s something that can fight back and survive attacks from all the difficult creatures there, too.
If you’re standing on the back of your tame, you can remove leeches with the radial menu without dismounting. Aggressive mounts can also continuously attack the path ahead to help kill leeches before they can attach.
A leech cannot poison your mount. Aside from humans, it only affects dodos.
Arm yourself with ranged weapons so that you can take out leeches nearby. This is especially useful if you’re trying to harvest blood from the leeches.
What to Do if the Leech Isn’t Coming Off?
Many people have tried to remove a leech, only to find that it stays on them even if they’ve danced through the fire. The most likely problem is that the leech is actually on your tame and not on you.
Check the radial menu on each dinosaur that you’ve been near or who was in a place where leeches might appear. When you find one with the remove leech option, take it off. You should have the status clear then.
If it still doesn’t, try logging out and then logging immediately back in. Always back up your game before trying to fix it if you think there might be a bug.