Megascolides australis have been known to exceed three metres in length and weigh around 200g, leaving extensive and elaborate underground burrows.


Megascolides australis, the not-so-humble Giant Gippsland Earthworms, have been known to exceed three metres in length and weigh around 200g, leaving extensive and elaborate underground burrows.

Discovered in 1878, these secretive hermaphrodites (having both male and female reproductive organs) are difficult to study as they rarely surface. Having no real defence against predators, they’re easy pickings for a lot of the local wildlife when exposed, and in fact are extremely fragile – even a slight bruising can kill them.

An easy way to discover if a Giant Gippsland Earthworm inhabits your property is to simply wait for the rains to dampen the soil, then stomp down hard; as the worms retreat to lower ground, they make a plainly audible sound similar to water draining from a bath.

It’s difficult to say how many are left in the wild since Giant Earthworm numbers are decreasing with land development, but they’re now listed as a vulnerable species.

Where // Bass River Valley, Gippsland, Victoria. There’s also a Giant Earthworm Museum at Wildlife Wonderland in the town of Bass. 03 5678 2222, www.WildlifeWonderland.com.au  

Did you know? // Giant Gippsland Earthworm bodies have between 300 and 500 segments and they can eat their own weight in compost each day.

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