hammer head worm

Hammer Head Worm

Is it a leech or slug or snake? I saw this unknown creature appeared at least twice in the newspapers. People seem to be bothered by this slimy worm that has a head looks like hammer. A smart ass reader even said it was a “wire snake”, making me chuckled a little. Actually it is a land planarian, also known as hammerhead worm or shovel head worm, it is something very common in countryside.

Hammer Head Worm

Hammerhead worm is harmless to human. When I was a kid, I picked it up once (I grabbed ANY bug when young) and found that it was very sticky. It likes dark and damp area, and the best time to find them is at night or early morning. You would see it gliding on moist surface such as wet soil and leaves. Its body is long and flat, with narrow stripes, and can grow more than 30 cm long. Wherever it goes, it will leave a slimy trail behind, like snails and slugs.

Shovel Head Worm

Shovel Head Worm

Hammerhead worm is native to Asia. However, it spreads to all over the world as far as USA and UK, through the pot of plant. The common species is dark brown in color, like the photo below. They do not have predator, probably because of their slimy flat body that makes them look like an awful meal. But they do feed on their own kind. You can’t kill it by cutting it into half, as it will grow into two worms. Just pour salt or vinegar on it to end its life, but there is little reason you want to kill it.

Tour package to Semporna

Hammerhead flatworm

Hammerhead worm likes to hang around in garden, so you might think that it is a vegetarian pest which feeds on plant only. Surprisingly, juicy earthworm is their main diet, and they also eat slugs and insect larvae. When they attack an earthworm, they coil their sticky body over the earthworm, “melt” it with enzyme, then slowly eating it. Ill… I can imagine it isn’t a pretty scene. Their strong appetize for earthworm and ability to reproduce quickly pose a disaster to some earthworm farms. An expert said hammerhead worms once wiped out 3,000 lbs of worms in less than a week.


land planarian preying on a snail
Above: land planarian preying on a snail

When I study more about it, I find that hammerhead worm is really an odd animal. It does not have anus. In fact its mouth is its anus and located in the middle of the body. Isn’t it cute? Keep it as a pet and your mom will be dearly impressed.

Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

20 thoughts on “Hammer Head Worm

  1. Hehe thanks, actually i cropped the photos. i miss my compact coz it is so light n convenient. to get quality only 1 time better in dslr, i have to carry 10 time more weight..

  2. Beautiful pictures and snapshot! Looks like you have been to so many places. How was your trip in Sapulot to visit Batu Punggul? got any stories relating to it? Currently we are promoting Batu Punggul as part of our Orou Sapulot Program. can we link each other? my blog is at http://dragonofborneo.wordpress.com

  3. I have these all over. Since they are an invasive species, I reported it to our invasive species department and they insist they can’t identify it. Odd, as google identifies it pretty easily.

    1. Hi Kim, yes, that’s weird. This worm is a popular invasive species so the dept should have info about it.

      1. They have informed me they think it is a native night crawler by description, and won’t be investigating further. They took no sample, and I am totally positive this is the same worm. I don’t know what to do!

        1. Hi Kim, the only way to get rid of them is to kill it one by one whenever you see one. It usually shows up in early morning or after rain.

  4. I found one of these in my garden yesterday here in Southern California. The texture was sticky and it seemed like a durable and active little creature. I let it go to do its thing. The ants wouldn’t touch it. Since we have a snail and slug problem, I’m considering it to be beneficial. Hopefully it won’t impact our earthworm population too badly.

    1. It is considered to be an invasive species and can really damage the native population of earthworms.

  5. just found one!! never have seen this. was very fascinated. weird at first looked like worm/snake then I punched in the internet worm/snake like snail with hammerhead and this came up..we put it in see thu container and my son is feeding it a worm lol..

  6. I hate this worm, it was almost destroyed my earthworm. It force me to pick up this worm every morning. (Only early morning it is appear on the surface.) And it just take less than a minute to killed one earthworm.

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