Giant Gippsland Earthworm (Sedentary)

 

 

 

 

 

Yep, that is exactly what you think it is.

Megascolides australis.

The Giant Gippsland Earthworm, in other words, native to Australia.

According to some accounts, when these worms dig through the soil or move quickly through their tunnels, the sound produced is akin to a toilet flushing.


Though the adult worms are avereaged at 2m long (almost 10ft), the body can expand and contract, showing records of more than 3m (almost 14ft) in length. Because of this variablity, body weight is used to determine size, making the average worm about 200g.

Like most earthworms, the setae are either nonexistant or extremely small, to make gliding through mud and dirt easier. It also ingests the surrounding dirt to dig out its burrows and to take in nutrients.

 

Despite its size, it is very hard to study because it never comes to the surface like this (unless flushed out by heavy rains) and usually spends time very deep underground. Patchy populations can be found near a type of blue-grey clay deposits that have a nearby source of water.

 

 

 

The worms also grow and reproduce very slowly, producing a single egg capsule (pictured) at an unknown rate. The young are already 20cm after incubating in their eggs for an entire year, but they can take several years to grow in order to reach adulthood.

 

 


It is even more difficult to study because of slow growth, low reproductive rate, and habitat destruction. The only reason the worms were able to survive the clearing of the euculyptus forests was their ability to delve deep underground; however, their range has been steadily declining since the European settlement.