A reader sent us the photo above in the hopes that we can identify the specimen featured in it. He wrote that he found it in the sink, which we can see from the photo. Also, he recently brought home a dog from the shelter and asked if there might be a connection between the creature and the dog. As you can see, the critter is dark brown or black, has two antenna, and has legs lining the upper half of its body, followed by a thick tail.
After glancing at the photo, we instantly thought this was a centipede. Its legs and antenna follow the typical description of a centipede, however after looking past the legs things got less clear. This creature has a thick, long tail, which isn’t a trait that is normally associated with centipedes. Once we examined the picture more and dug a little deeper, we came to the conclusion that we believe this is a polychaete, or a bristle worm. There are a ton of species of bristle worms, many of which can look and behave very differently. Some are very brightly colored with thick tuft-like bristles, while others are duller in color and have subtle bristles. People may deal with bristle worms if they keep a reef tank. Bristle worms are scavengers, and will consume meaty things that die in the tank. Bristle worms sometimes have a bad reputation because their bristles can feel like the prick of a porcupine on human skin.
We have no idea how a bristle worm got into our reader’s sink, but since it needs a wet environment to survive we suppose there is some practical explanation! Our best advice is for our reader to remove the bristle worm and give his sink a good cleaning, especially sanitizing the drain and pipes. Also, we really doubt this worm has any connection to his new dog! In summary, we attempted to identify the specimen in a photo a reader sent us. At first we thought it could be a centipede, but then we settled on the belief that it is a bristle worm!