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Science

Time to add 'horrifying giant beach worms' to Australia's list of WTF wildlife

They can grow up to 9 feet long and live all along Australia's populated eastern coasts.

man pulling a worm from the sand with pliers

Australia's giant beach worms are often collected for bait.

In many ways, Australia is an ideal place to live. Its comfortable climate with plentiful sunshine, beautiful natural attractions, high standard of living and people-centered policies give the land down under a leg up on many other countries.

As long as you're willing to put up with its long list of "WTF is that thing?!" wildlife, that is.

Australia's wildlife is the "Florida man" of the animal kingdom, with countless examples of exceptionally terrifying creatures showing up where you least expect them to. Sure, there are cuddly koalas and cute kangaroos as well, but those don't outweigh the spiders the size of your face, the massive saltwater crocodiles, 100 species of venomous snakes, the nonvenomous but equally as scary pythons that can eat said crocodiles, the tiny but potentially deadly irukandji jellyfish, etc., etc., etc.

And thanks to people sharing on the internet, we now have one more reason we can never go live in Australia: Giant Beach Worms.


Some of us already knew about Australia's giant earthworms, but comforted ourselves by the fact that we were unlikely to ever encounter them even if we did visit Oz. What some of us did not know was that there are also giant worms in the sand—at the beach, for the love—and they look like something straight out of a horror movie.

Please prepare yourself, then watch:

Nope. Nope. Nope. All the nopes. WTF is that, Australia?!? They can grow up to 300 cm long? That's like 9 frickin' feet. No. No, thank you.

The fact that these things are just hanging out under the sand along the populated east coast of Australia is too much to process. People apparently collect these worms for bait—ironically, using fish for bait to lure them out. I don't think that's how the circle of life is supposed to work, but we're talking about Australia here, where apparently anything is possible.

People in the comments, of course, had a heyday:

"Literally no space is safe in Australia. Just one big island of Tim Burton creatures and Vegemite."

"This is longer than my patience!"

"Australia is that you? Lol of course it is."

"I could have happily lived the rest of my natural life not having seen that..."

One person offered this bit of comfort:

"Lol this isn't the thing you need to worry about. It won't touch you it is only after fish. What you have to worry about are bristle worms, stone fish, blue ring octopus, happy moments, lion fish, irrakanji, box jelly fish, toad fish, sting rays and sea snakes."

Hahahaha. Thanks, mate.

Of course, the reality is that people go to the beach all the time in Australia and don't encounter any giant worms. Many Aussies in the comments said they've been enjoying Australian beaches their whole lives and haven't ever seen one. The worms aren't attracted to human flesh, so they're not going to just pop up and start nibbling on your toes. Theoretically, anyway.

By the way, there are actually three different kinds of giant beach worms one can find on Australia's beaches if they try. One is the "up to 9 feet" variety, one "only" grows up to around 3 feet and the third has nicknames like "hairy Mary," "greasyback" and "blackhead," which just sounds charming. That last one isn't favored as a bait worm, by the way, because, according to the Australian Museum, "If placed in the same container with others, it makes them all wriggle and break to pieces." Lovely.

It's not like the U.S. doesn't have its own scary or icky wildlife. We've got grizzly bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, brown recluse spiders and others. Some states might give Oz a run for its money in the WTF wildlife department (looking at you, Arizona), but in a real creepy creatures contest, Australia always wins, hands down.

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