Christmas tree worms certainly have a striking appearance, with brightly-colored, Christmas tree-shaped crowns. Oftentimes in the animal kingdom, bright colors and crazy shapes like this indicate danger or poison.
So, are Christmas tree worms poisonous? And how do they defend themselves?
Keep reading to learn more!
Poisonous or Harmless?
Believe it or not, despite their wild appearance, Christmas tree worms are not poisonous. In fact, they pose no threat to humans.
So how do these animals protect themselves from predators and other dangers? Well, to answer this question, we’ll have to explore the habitat and behaviors of the Christmas tree worm.
Christmas tree worms are actually considered to be sedentary sea creatures as they stay in one place their whole lives.
More specifically, these worms live on the heads of corals. Here, they will build a protective tube. The tubing is made of calcium carbonate, which is excreted from the worm itself.
In addition to sources within the body, Christmas tree worms will also store sand particles they have consumed to help build their tubes.
Due to the fact that the worms build their tubes on corals, the coral will eventually grow around the tube, making it even more sturdy and protective.
Interestingly, the worms never have to leave their tubes due to the way in which they feed. This means that anytime there is a threat or danger, the Christmas tree worm can hide in their tube.
Additionally, the worms will use their spiny crowns to plug the opening of the tube.
Dangers to Christmas Tree Worms
So what threats do these worms face? Typically, Christmas tree worms go in their tubes to hide from predators.
These include crabs, sea urchins, some fish, and shrimp.
In addition to natural threats, Christmas tree worms will also hide in their tubes when they feel threatened by other factors, including humans.
Further, the worms are very sensitive to light, shadows, motion, and touch so they will often retract themselves in the presence of any of these factors changing.
Though their tubes help to protect Christmas tree worms, occasionally the worms will not escape to their tubes fast enough.
Luckily, even if a predator eats part of the worm, they have the ability to regrow.