Which animals are called innkeepers?« Back to Questions List

An interesting creature called innkeeper worm dwells along coast of California. It is a fat marine worm that lives in a U-shaped burrow. It is also referred to as spoon worm. The worm reaches about 20cm long but their burrow can be several feet deep. It normally burrows in areas with sandy mud.

innkeeper innkeeper 1

Many small species of fish like gobies take shelter in the mouth of the burrow. Tiny crabs, scale worms also take up residence in this convenient shelter. Clams living outside the burrow stick their siphons into it, taking advantage of current of water that passes through. Food, shelter and running water pumped by innkeeper worm attract the ‘guests’ to this burrow.
The innkeepers eat by secreting a thick net made of some unpleasant substance like mucus or so called as slime net. The net traps tiny bits of food moving along with water. When the net is full of food, the innkeeper finds it difficult to let water pass through. This indicates that the net is full of food. When the net is full of food, the innkeepers swallow its meal, the net and everything else. It only rejects large particles that are difficult to swallow.

The innkeeper’s guests check in and check out as and when they wish. The innkeeper worms neither gain anything from their ‘guests’ nor harm them. The worms are eaten by fish like bat rays, leopard sharks and otters. The predators suck these worms and dig them out of their burrows.


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