15 Amazing Worm Facts

Charles Darwin was fascinated with worms.
Charles Darwin was fascinated with worms.

Charles Darwin, best known for his theory of evolution, studied worms for 38 years. He even published a book on them in 1881 with his findings, just before he died. In this book he suggested earthworms are the most important creatures on Earth. Here are 15 amazing and interesting worm facts.

1. Worms Will Become Paralyzed if Exposed to Light for Too Long

Worms live in the dark, and are very sensitive to light. Worms do not have eyes, but can detect light through their skin. Worms will move away from light so that their skin stays moist. If worms are exposed to light for about an hour, they will become paralyzed and unable to burrow back into the darkness.

2. Worms Breath Through Their Skin and Have No Lungs

All living animals need oxygen. Worms cannot breath in through their mouth, and they don’t have a nose either. Instead of lungs, worms have a thin permeable skin through which oxygen in air passes through. The mucos on a worms skin helps to dissolve the oxygen. Therefore, worms need moisture. If a worms dries out, they suffocate. Likewise, if a worms environment is too moist, they drown.

3. Worms Can Regenerate Some Segments of Their Body

This is one of the most misunderstood worm facts. If you cut a worm in half, depending on where the cut is, it can regenerate lost segments. Worms have 5 hearts located close to the head and before the clitella. If you cut a worm behind the clitella, then it may be able to regenerate it’s tail.

Worm Fact #4 – Worms Are Cold Blooded and Have 5 Hearts

Because worms are cold blooded, their can’t regulate their temperature like mammals can. This means their body temperature will be the same as their surroundings.

Worms do not have a multi-chambered heart like mammals and reptiles do. Instead they have 5 single-chambered aortic arches (functions similar to a heart) which pumps blood through their body. The 5 hearts are close to the head of the worm.

5. The Average Lifespan of A Worm Is About 2 Years, but They Can Live Up to as Long as 8 Years

The life span expectancy of worms can vary widely depending on the species. In a protected and stable environment, some species of worms can live up to 4-8 years In the wild, worms have many predators. In general, the average life span of a composting worm is about 2 years.

6. Worms Have Tiny Hairs on Each Segment

Worms have tiny bristles, known as setae, on each segment.  The setae help it move through soil and allow the worm to grip the surrounding soil. The setae are very strong and formed from the same material that makes up our fingernails.

7. Worms Are Hermaphrodite – Both Male and Female

While worms possess both male and female sexual organs, a red wiggler cannot produce offspring alone.

8. Adult Worms Have A Ring Called A Clitella

An active worm breeder can be identified form their distinctive ring called a clitella band
An active worm breeder can be identified form their distinctive ring called a clitella band

You can identify adult breeding worms by their distinctive ring shaped band called a clitella. Worms mate by lining up their heads and attaching themselves together at the clitella. A cocoon is then formed at the clitella band.

9. Baby Worms Hatch From Cocoons

Compost worm eggs / cocoons found in the worm bin.
Compost worm eggs / cocoons found in the worm bin.

A mature Red Wiggler worm can produce 2-3 cocoons per week. Cocoons are small, lemon shaped and yellowish gold colored. For Red Wiggler worms, the hatchlings inside the cocoon can take up to 11 weeks to mature before they hatch. Each cocoon usually hatches 2 to 4 baby worms. Cocoons can be dormant for years until conditions are right.

Did you know a worm colony can double in population every 60-90 days?

10. The Giant Gippsland Earthworm Is the the Longest in the World, Reaching Up to 9.8 Ft (3m) Long

The Gippsland Giant earthworm is one of the largest earthworms in the world. They average 3.3 ft (1 m) long, 0.79 inches (2 cm) in diameter and can reach up to 9.8 ft (3 m) long.

The Gippsland Giant earthworm is a protected species only found in a small pocket of land near the bottom of mainland Australian. When the Gippsland Giant earthworm was first discovered in the 1870s, it was mistaken for a snake.

As an Aussie, this is one of my favorite worm facts. I actually grew up in the Gippsland area not far away from where they live.

The largest earthworm ever found was in South Africa measuring 22 ft (6.7 m) long.

11. Worms Digest Half of Their Body Weight on Average Each Day

Worms are fast food processors, and can digest about half of their body weight each day. The average food waste from a family of 4 would need about 20,000 worms to process each day. A worms digestive system is a tube which runs straight from the front at the mouth and all the way to the rear.

Find out what worms eat and what foods are bad for worms.

12. There Are About 6,000 Different Kinds of Earthworms

Worms are present on all continents except Antarctica. There are about 6,000 species of earthworm. Earthworms are an invasive species. Their introduction can alter many different variables in the soil ecosystem.

13. Worms Are Older Than the Dinosaurs

The first dinosaurs appeared around 231 million years ago in a time called the Mesozoic Era. Earthworms predate all vertebrates in general. And have been around for about 600 million years.

14. Worms Are 90% Water

Worms are 90% water. In comparison, humans are about 75% water.

15. If Worms Eat Too Much Protein, They Can Appear Deformed

One of the most intriguing worm facts is the phenomenon of protein poisoning (also known as sour crop)
One of the most intriguing worm facts is the phenomenon of protein poisoning (also known as sour crop).
Source: The Squirm Firm.

One of the most intriguing worm facts is the phenomenon of protein poisoning (also known as sour crop). If worms eat too much protein, they can struggle to digest it. When this happens, the food in the worms intestines can start to ferment due to acidity. The build up of gasses can rupture the worms intestines, causing irreparable damage. This can leave the worms deformed, looking like a string of pearls. In most cases, this situation can be avoided by not overfeeding your worms.

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