Giant Gippsland Earthworm Facts
- The Giant Gippsland Earthworm ranks as the largest known species of earthworm on earth. Yet it must be remembered that it constitutes only one of the roughly 1,000 known species of earthworm native to its region.
- In its native range, it also goes by the common name of karmai. This derives from the language of the local Indigenous Peoples, the Bunwurrung.
- Currently, the IUCN lists this remarkable animal as Threatened. Due to its highly restricted habitat range, it remains highly vulnerable to habitat loss and climate change.
Giant Gippsland Earthworm
The astonishing Giant Gippsland Earthworm averages roughly 3.3 ft (1 m) in length and attains an average weight of about 0.44 lb (200 grams).
Yet, exceptional specimens of this fascinating creature remain capable of reaching the truly astonishing length of as much as 10 ft (3 m).
It possesses a blue-gray colored body and a dark purple colored head. The bodies of this unique worm also present between 300-400 separate segments.
It also has the ability to greatly expand its diameter at will, to dissuade predators, making it appear even larger than its already incredible size.
Order: Order: Haplotaxids
Species: M. australis
Giant Gippsland Earthworm Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The astonishing Giant Gippsland Earthworm thrives in only one specific region. It appears to be endemic to only certain portions of Gippsland, Australia.
We still do not know if its range ever extended beyond this region.
For reasons that we still do not entirely understand, the Giant Gippsland Earthworm inhabits a rather specific habitat, even within its already tiny endemic range.
It seems to live only in regions of red, gray, or blue clay, on the banks of streams flowing through hills that face either west or south.
The Giant Gippsland Earthworm also inhabits extensive shallow burrows. It also possesses an extremely long lifespan for an invertebrate and takes nearly 5 years to reach maturity.
Unless forced to the surface the creature spends its entire life underground. Breeding occurs during the summer months. It now ranks as a protected species throughout its known habitat range.