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up to 20 centimeters


gray or brown


up to 6 years


algae, bacteria, small animals in de sand


shorebirds, fish, fishermen



  • Dut: Wadpier
  • Lat: Arenicola marina
  • Eng: Lugworm (Lobworm)
  • Ger: Wattwurm, Köderwurm, Pierwurm
  • Dan: Sandorme
Lugworm, foto fitis, sytske dijksen


Lugworms eat the sand on the tidal flats. They digest anything edible in the sand. The filtered sand is ejected after going through their intestines. In order to get enough to eat, the animal has to process a lot of sand. It eats 3.5 liters of sand per year. Lugworms live in a U-shaped tunnel. They eat sand from one end of the tunnel, forming a funnel on the surface. Whatever is indigestible is pressed out at the other end of the tunnel. This is where the typical spaghetti piles of sand come from.

On Texel

Lugworm (lobworm, rockworm), Ecomare

Lugworms are very widespread on the tidal flats near Texel. There are several residents that dig them up and sell them to fishermen.

  • Distribution and habitat
    Lugworm debris, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Lugworms live in massive amounts on banks and sea floors which lay exposed during low tide and are not too muddy. Sometimes, you see them on the beach along water edge at low tide.

  • Enemies
    Lugworm pile, Ecomare

    Lugworms are highly desired by all kinds of birds. The animal only appears on the surface to excrete sand. Shorebirds watch closely and as soon as they discover a piece of worm, they try to pull it out of the bottom. They usually only manage to get a piece of the tail and not the rest of the worm. The worms aren't safe during high tide either. Then the fish are standing guard!

    Sport fishermen usually use lugworms when fishing at sea for bait. The worms are gathered on the tidal flats for this purpose. This usually takes place by hand, but there are a couple of mechanical worm fishermen active in the western part of the wadden region. These machines dig up tidal flat bottom in search of these animals which live as deep as 30 centimeters in the bottom.