“We found this clung to the toilet bowl,” writes this reader in his submission regarding the strange-looking organism pictured below. “Not sure what it is, it’s clear and jellylike. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.” We have to say that we have actually seen something like this submitted before by another reader, and it stumped just as much then as it does now. The center of the creature’s body seems to be transparent, while its bristles or segmentation (we are not sure what those appendages are) are visible, but only just. On top of that, at one end of its body, the appendages seem to break apart. We are curious to know how much our reader had to zoom in on the worm to get this picture.
Our best guess is that this is some type of aquatic bristle worm that has found its way into our reader’s toilet via the piping. Typically, worms are only able to come up through one’s piping if there is a leak somewhere underground. Signs of a leak include foul-smelling or -tasting water, discolored water, and/or inconsistencies in water pressure and temperature. If our reader notices any of these signs and wants the leak fixed, we recommend contacting a professional to handle it. Now, when it comes to handling the worm, we recommend scooping it onto a dustpan and moving it to another body of water, ideally a freshwater body. If there is not one nearby, then moving it onto some damp soil is the next best thing.
What we do not recommend doing is making physical contact with the worm, especially since we are not entirely sure what it is. But, assuming that its appendages are bristles, then it is likely that it is able to secrete some kind of toxin through them, which could cause an allergic reaction. A good rule of thumb is that if a worm-like creature has bristles, it is likely poisonous. Usually they are not able to secrete enough toxins to kill a human or animal bigger than themselves, so we do not think our reader is actually in danger, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Now, if our reader wants a more specific and confident answer as to the worm’s identity, we suggest taking it to his local county extension office, where someone will be able to physically examine it and might therefore have a better chance at identifying it.
In conclusion, we are not entirely sure what it is our reader found. Its transparent body makes its appendages seem like they are attached to thin air, making this a very odd creature indeed. Our best guess is that it is some type of aquatic bristle worm that made its way into the toilet via a leak in the pipes. We hope this helps, and we wish our reader the very best!
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