A New Zealand kid uncovered “the stuff of nightmares” when he found a 3-foot earthworm in his backyard.
9-year-old Barnaby Domigan was playing near a river that borders his family’s garden in Burnside, Christchurch, when he made the incredible find.
“I grabbed it with a stick. I thought wow, what an amazing discovery,” he told Stuff before adding, “I thought it was massive and amazing and a little bit disgusting.”
Barnaby didn’t want to touch the shockingly large creature just in case it was covered in bacteria. And because of the size, he wasn’t even sure it was a worm. But he noted that it didn’t smell and it was “slimy and squishy and stuff like that.”
“We’ve got a bit of an abandoned riverbed on the edge of our property,” his mom, Jo, told the NZ Herald. “That’s where he was digging around and stumbled upon, in the water, this giant disgusting worm. I just, you know, wanted to be sick in my mouth.”
Massive Earthworms Aren’t ‘Beyond the Border of Reason’ in New Zeland
John Marris, a curator of entomology research with the University of Lincoln, told Stuff that over 7,000 different types of earthworms exist in the world, and 171 of them are native to New Zealand.
“There are some very large native earthworms known here,” he shared. “A [3-footer] isn’t beyond the border of reason.”
Unfortunately, Marris wasn’t able to identify the specific species based on the photo alone. He said that a physical examination would be necessary. But Barnaby re-released the earthworm that he dubbed “Dead Fred” back into the wild. Though, he tried convincing his father to keep the specimen in a plastic bag first.
‘He wasn’t really in on that idea,” Barnaby told the Herald. “I think it’s because adults don’t really enjoy giant worms in their houses. If I was an adult, I would agree.”
“I thought of it as like an amazing discovery,” he added. “And I could not believe my eyes.”
The boy named the creature Dead Fred because his family assumed it was deceased upon discovery. When Barnaby spotted it, it was “bobbing” in the water. However, they can’t confirm their initial thought because when Barnaby went back to check on the earthworm, it was gone.
“It is so huge and … it looks to me in the photo pretty slimy, which is pretty gross,” Jo added. “I wonder if it could have been floating in the water and if it had taken on some water so it was sort of bloated.”