A pest-service company in Virginia was stumped this week when they were unable to classify a snake that they were called to identify in Midlothian, a town west of Richmond.
“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 on social media, reports the Charlotte Observer.
After posting a picture of the creature on social media, the company discovered that it was not a snake, but actually a giant invasive worm.
The worm, which was around 10-12 inches long, was a hammerhead flatworm, an invasive species of worm that is native to Southeast Asia. The flatworm is notoriously difficult to kill, as it is capable of regenerating when amputated. One Facebook commenter wrote that “cutting them creates two instead of killing the one.”
The Texas Invasive Species Institute explains that to reproduce, hammerhead flatworms split themselves and their back half then grows into a new worm, with a new head forming within ten days. The worms can regenerate several times in the span of a month.
In the United States, hammerhead worms have been found as far north as Maine and as far south as Florida, and while Virginia previously was not one of the states that had reported the invasive species, it had been spotted in neighboring North Carolina. They are not harmful to people or pets, but they do prey on earthworms, reports Insider.
Virginia Wildlife Management and Control shared that the person who asked for help, who has not been identified, did not kill the worm. “They just left it alone.”