A Virginia wildlife-management company was puzzled when residents sent it a video of a “snake” they hadn’t seen before.
The snake turned out to be a giant worm that reproduces by cutting itself in half.
The worms likely originated in Asia and were transported to the US and parts of Europe through the plant trade.
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It turns out that a “freak of nature” snake found in Virginia is actually not a reptile at all but a giant invasive worm that is nearly impossible to kill, The Charlotte Observer reported this week.
Virginia Wildlife Management and Control, a pest-service company, posted on Facebook last week after struggling to identify a snake spotted in Midlothian. The creature was said to be about a foot long, with a half-moon-shaped head.
Having never come across a snake like this, the company asked its followers for help.
It was identified as a hammerhead flatworm, an invasive species thought to be native to Asia.
The worms are thought to have arrived in the US through the plant trade decades ago and become more common.
The nightmarish pests prey on earthworms and are not harmful to humans or pets, The Virginian-Pilot reported in 2013.
To reproduce, hammerhead flatworms split themselves, and the back half grows into a full worm, according to the Texas Invasive Species Institute.
When a small piece of the worm pinches off, the front half will slither away, and within about 10 days a new head will form on the back half. A worm can regenerate a few times a month.
This makes the worm especially hard to kill.
The hammerhead flatworm has also been reported in Florida and Tennessee. They also made their way to France and somehow “ran amok,” undetected by scientists, for two decades, Scientific American reported in 2018.
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