Image Credit: MarvinBikolano
The African night crawler, also known as Eudrilus eugeniae, is a kind of earthworm that comes from West Africa. These worms are a mix of purple and grey. They can grow to be as much as eight inches in length, thus making them much larger and more muscular than more common worms like red worms or European night crawlers.
Advantages of African night crawler
Their greater size is part of the reason the African night crawler has gotten so popular. They are preferred by vermicomposters, gardeners and fishing enthusiasts. The first two love them due to the much larger castings they produce, which are basically worm poop and quite valuable for composting and enriching gardens. The latter love them for their size and weight since they make great bait for fishing.
These African night crawler worms grow fast and will reach their full size by around eight to ten weeks old. They also reproduce fast and can be bred at about five weeks old. They have about three cocoons a week which hatch after around 12 days. That translates into about six babies per worm since two normally hatch from each cocoon. So if you have a large amount of worms, you will end up with plenty of babies to raise.
Disadvantages of African night crawler
Despite their advantages, these worms also have a few disadvantages. One disadvantage of this worm is that it requires warmer temperatures than native worms and can’t survive in lower temperatures where red worms as well as the European night crawler can be raised. They need temperatures above 60 degrees F.
However, this fact also makes it so it’s unnecessary to store them in a refrigerator as some bait shops do with other kinds of worms.
Another thing to note is these worms are more active then some breeds and therefore have a tendency to escape their enclosures. Be sure to have a strong lid on your worm bins. Since they are larger, they also require more food. These worms eat up to one and a half times their body weight.
What do African night crawlers eat?
These worms thrive on fruit waste, vegetable waste, coffee grounds (even coffee filters), shredded cardboard, leaves (don’t use any exotic tree breeds), garden waste, starches like pasta, rice or potatoes, egg shells (in moderation), commercial worm foods, and aged animal manure (horse manure is best).
However, be sure not to feed any citrus fruits, meat, grease, cooking oil, dairy product waste, or either human or pet poop. By following these suggestions you should have healthy and happy worms.
All in all, the African night crawler is an excellent choice to raise for bait, composting, or use of their castings to use in gardens. As long as you are careful to keep them in a warm, moist place and ensure they can’t escape their bins, and give them a good supply of appropriate foods, you will soon have a lot of large, meaty worms for your chosen purposes.