The worlds largest earthworm, Megascolides australis, is one of Australia's 1,000 native earthworm species. These Giant earthworms average 100 cm long and 2 cm in diameter and can reach 3 m in length. They have a dark purple head and a blue-grey body.
They live in the subsoil of blue, grey or red clay soils along stream banks and some south or west facing hills of their remaining habitat which is in Gippsland in Victoria, Australia.
These worms live in deep burrow systems and require water in their environment to respire. These worms rarely leave their moist burrows. They have relatively long life spans for invertebrates and can take 5 years to reach maturity. They breed in the warmer months and produce large egg cocoons which are laid in their burrows. When these worms hatch in 12 months they are already 20 cm long.
They can sometimes be heard in their habitat making gurgling sounds as they move underground.
The worlds largest earthworm is now a protected species because of its decline in population. It is so fragile that being dug up or handled by humans can kill it.
Located near the town of Bass is the Giant Earthworm Museum. This building allows tourists to crawl through a magnified replica of a worm burrow and a simulated worm's stomach. Displays and educational material on the Worlds largest earthworm and other natural history of Gippsland are featured.