Snake sized worms found on Scottish island

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SCIENTISTS have found gigantic worms on the Isle of Rum.

 

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The team at work on the Isle of Rum.

 

The earthworms are as long as snakes, and weigh over twice as much as a normal worm.

They were found on an abandoned settlement called Papadil at the south end of the island.

Whilst they are a common type of worm, it is thought a lack of human presence or predators such as badgers and moles has led to their huge size.
Dr Kevin Butt, a reader in ecology at the University of Central Lancashire, has been a specialist in earthworms for over 30 years.

He said: “No, we don’t find giant worms in Britain all the time. I think the last time I was in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1990s and I found one that was about eight grams.

“When they came out of their burrows they were like baby snakes.

“These things weigh about twelve and a half grams – but the normal size for these things is about four to five grams.

 

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The worms are as long as baby snakes.

 

Dr Butt said that whilst the worms were measured by weight, the longest he had found was around 40 cm (1.5ft) long.

He said: “The biggest one was about 12.7 grams.

“These things have just have been left and have grown bigger and bigger.

“Most earthworms end their lives when they get eaten. If they avoid that, they can get rather large.”

But he added that people had nothing to fear, saying: “If they feel footsteps they will just go down deeper into the earth. “

His research was published in a scientific journal last month.

The Isle of Rum is situated 17 miles off the west coast of Scotland. Papadil can only be reached by boat or footpath.

There are about 30 species of earthworm. The worms on Rum are called Lumbricus Terrestris in Latin, and are common across the British Isles.

Dr Butt has visited Rum over 30 times in the past 20 years, and is about to start a new project investigating disused agriculture methods on the island.

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