Giant regenerating ‘freak of nature’ worm mistaken for snake

This insect is so enormous, it was mistaken for a reptile.

In late October, a concerned Midlothian, Virginia, resident spotted a strange “snake” measuring roughly 10 to 12 inches long with a head shaped like a half-moon. Unsure what it was, the individual called the Virginia Wildlife Management and Control’s Snake Identification Hotline, sending over a video of the bizarre creature.

“We identify thousands of snakes every year … but the problem is, we’ve never seen anything like it before and we’re not sure if it’s a freak of nature,” Virginia Wildlife Management and Control wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post on Oct. 28., the Charlotte Observer reported.

They were so confused as to the creepy crawler’s species, they put out a public call for tips. “So, if anyone has any idea what it is, please feel free to comment,” they wrote.

Eventually, the group figured out that the odd creature was a hammerhead worm — an unhappy answer as the species is a large, invasive pest and extremely difficult to kill.

“Flatworms may not look that exciting, but they have an astonishing superpower: regeneration. When bits of them are amputated, these bits can regrow into complete worms — even from snipped-off fragments that represent 1/300th of the worm’s body,” wrote LiveScience in a post about the worms’ ongoing invasion of France.

The worms, along with other members of the giant flatworm species, reproduce asexually and are able to produce tons of worm children without a partner. They also taste terrible. “Land flatworms produce chemicals that give them an unpleasant taste,” Jean-Lou Justine, a professor at Paris’ National Museum of Natural History, told LiveScience.

Hammerhead worms, which are native to Asia, are thought to have come to the US by hitchhiking across plant trade routes.

As for the fate of the long fellow in question in Virginia, the person who found it did not attempt to test how challenging it would be to kill it. “They just left it alone,” Virginia Wildlife Management officials told McClatchy News.

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