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      girraween > animals > slugs, snails and worms
 


© Robert Ashdown, 2011.




Family Temnocephalidae
Temnocephalan Worm

Conservation status: Least Concern

Temnocephalids are a type of flatworm, which are more properly known as Platyhelminthes.

 
Scientific Classification
Phylum:
Class:
Order:
Family:
Platyhelminthes
Turbellaria
Dalyellioida
Temnocephalidae
The worms live on crayfish exoskeletons and in the gill chambers. They are not parasitic and don't harm their host but graze on alga and other detritus on the crayfish. By doing this, they might be playing an important role in cleaning the crayfish of other more harmful inhabitants. The crayfish provides a movable home that is always stirring up likely sources of food during its own foraging acivities. The worms also catch and eat small free-swimming animals such as mosquito larvae. Temnocephalids have also been found living on freshwater turtles.

Temnocephalids attach themselves to their host with a strong suction disk, which is positioned on their abdomen, and they use their finger-like tentacles to capture food. When they want to move, they use their "hand" to reach out and pull themselves along in an inch-worm fashion. They can stretch out to long strings to reach for food or curl up into a tiny ball for protection.

At least three species in two genera of temnocephalids have been recorded on Euastacus and Cherax crayfish in the Girraween area. They are Temnohaswellia simulator and another genus Temnosewellia viz. Temnosewellia flammula and Temnosewellia gingrina.

The number of tentacles a worm has determines what kind of worm it is - with some temnocephalids having two, four, five or even six tentacles. It’s hard to distinguish from the above photo exactly how many tentacles these particular worms have because not all of the retractile tentacles are necessarily visible at any one time. Temnohaswellia is a genus with six tentacles and it is usually pale white in colour, while the genus Temnosewellia have five tentacles and have a brown pigment. There are both white and brown worms on this crayfish, so it's likely that it is playing host to more than one Temnocephalid species.


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© Vanessa and Chris Ryan, 2009 | Copyright Details and Disclaimer
Last updated: 18th February 2017