Largest Earthworm in the UK Found on Scottish Island of Rùm, Study Says

The worms are the size of small snakes
January 20, 2016 Updated: January 20, 2016

The largest earthworm in the United Kingdom was recently found on a Scottish island, Rùm, according to a study.

The worms are as large as snakes, and they’re considered the largest earthworms ever found in Britain, according to new results from the University of Central Lancashire’s Earthworm Research Group.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Kevin Richard Butt found dew worms (Lumbricus terrestris) that have an average weight of 11.6 grams, with some worms reaching 12.6 grams.

Some of the worms got to be as large as 15.6 inches (39.6 cm), which is about three times the length of a normal earthworm.

Experts say the worms have flourished on Rùm island due to a lack of predators and rich soil.

Dr. Butt told the BBC: “These things weigh about twelve and a half grams – but the normal size for these things is about four to five gram.”

“When these things came out of their burrows they were like small snakes.”

Elaborating to the U.K. Telegraph, Dr. Butt said the worms are a significant member of the island’s ecosystem.

He noted, “Without their activities we’d be a lot worse off. They’re just as important as bees are in pollinating plants. They help aerate the soil and drain away water and stop surface erosion. These things have just have been left and have grown bigger and bigger.”

Dr. Butt’s findings were published in Scottish peer-reviewed scientific journal, The Glasgow Naturalist.

“I first noticed the large worm burrows in 2005, so I had my suspicions that there may be some pretty big worms in the area. We went back out to investigate the following year and finding worms of this size was very exciting, especially when the Natural History Museum team confirmed that they had no specimens like this,” he explained on the university’s website.

“There are still unanswered questions and we plan to continue our research to find out as much as possible about these creatures. We’re also looking forward to exploring more rural areas in the UK and abroad, in the hope that we will make more exciting discoveries of this nature.”