Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Giant Gippsland Earthworm

Some things in the world are just wrong. Amiss. Askew. Perverse... BAD! I think an earthworm that can stretch to over 3 metres (10 feet) in length may well be one of those.

The Giant Gippsland Earthworm is found in Gippsland in south-eastern Australia, burrowing in the soil where there is lots of water to help them breathe. These burrows can be right at the surface to over a metre (over 3 feet) deep.

They produce huge egg cocoons which have to be left for a whole year before a baby is ready to emerge. This baby will already be about 20 cm long, which for me would be a noteworthy size for an adult if I came across it. But it's not an adult, it's a newborn.

It will take this youngster a further 5 years or so before it reaches maturity. By now it will be more like a metre long, but one must remember that earthworms can stretch and contract their bodies. Indeed, it's how they get around! This makes the simple question of 'length' a rather complicated affair.


Despite this extravagant size, or (being an earthworm) perhaps because of it, the Gippsland Giant is very peaceful and very fragile. They can be killed by too much handling and can only survive in a particular soil type with nearby water.

Walking over their property will send vibrations down into their burrows. They respond by crawling about and making audible squelchy sounds that emanate from below. This is not normal.

Not much is known about these giant softies since they very seldom go to the surface. It seems like they mate in their burrows after finding each other somehow. No doubt they make audible squelchy noises.

11 comments:

shewalkssoftly.com said...

Where do you come across these things? I'm delightfully horrified and impressed, as always. :-)

Comment1 said...

Thank you! It's amazing what you can turn up if you go looking for it!

TexWisGirl said...

makes me think of one of my favorite movies - Tremors. :)

Comment1 said...

Ha! Yeh! We just have to be thankful that the killing people bit is a clear distinction.

Crunchy said...

Earthworms are not supposed to make squelchy sounds. They're not supposed to make any sounds! Someone needs to inform the Giant Gippsland Earthworm that it is worming incorrectly.

Comment1 said...

Haha! Yeh, the problem is that it might get too ambitious and end up flying and eating people. In for a penny, in for a pound.
.

Kali said...

We Aussies are very proud of our creepy-crawlies! We make 'em bigger, smaller, and/or more venomous than anywhere else. There is a dedicated museum to these guys in Gippsland, should you ever be passing through. It's pretty amazing!

Comment1 said...

You definitely have every reason to be proud (and often a bit scared/stoical)! A whole worm museum sounds great and weird, I'll definitely bear it in mind if I ever happen to be in the area.

Michael Knauer said...

Let's just be glad that the Gippsland earthworm is nothing like a worm in a certain Kongregate game that I like to play.

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

Oooo, that sounds ominous!

Ethan Kranz said...

I WANT ONE FOR MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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