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Giant Gippsland Earthworm ()

Giant Gippsland Earthworm

The Giant Gippsland Earthworm

Australia has about 1000 native species of earthworms worms but now European introduced worms have pretty much taken over the land. The largest native Australian worm is the giant Gippsland earthworm.  It normally has a length of about 2 to 3 meters, (6.5 to 10 feet), and is about 2cm, (0.8 inches), in diameter however the longest worm on record was 4 m, (13 feet), long.  Their skin is a pinkish-gray color and the head is a deep purple.  They live underground in red, gray or blue clay under banks of streams and in south or west facing hills.  They need water to live so they never really leave their moist underground maze.   If you stomp the ground above them you will be able to hear a gurgling sound coming from under you.  This sound is made by the worms moving through their lubricated tunnels as fast as possible away from the disturbance.



The giant Gippsland earthworm mates during the spring and summer seasons and lays egg sacs that measure 5 to 8 centimeters, (2 to 3 inches), long amber brown in color.  These eggs take up to 1 year to fully develop and finally hatch.  The baby worms are born with already an impressive length of about 20 cm, (8 inches). 

Gippsland earthworms is now a protected species because of its decline in population.  It is so fragile that being dug up or handled by humans can kill it.  It also can't stand the disturbance that agriculture and herds of animals cause.  The use of herbicides and pesticides is also a leading cause of its disappearance since most of these are toxic to the worm when absorbed into the earth. 

The small town of Korumburra has a worm festival called Karmai every year.  The citizens celebrate with parades and games and of course who can forget the earthworm Queen.  For those who want to know everything there is to know about these worms, I suggest visiting the Giant Earthworm Museum in the town of Bass. 

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