The worm needs AIR, MOISTURE and FOOD and a nice temperate shady place to THRIVE. They burrow into the ground using their muscular segments and setae (pronounced see-tee) which are bristles that cover their bodies. (yes, worms have bristles! They're not smooth.) Lets go step by step how a worm digests his/her food. Suppose a worm finds a nice small bit of apple or carrot, and does what worms do best.. they eat it. (refer to the diagram at the bottom of the page to see what goes where!)
Mouth : There's a flap above the worm's mouth called the prostomium. It keeps unwanted items out of the mouth and senses if there is food around. It also protections the mouth, much like an upper lip Worms have no teeth.. so they compensate for it with other organs, mainly the gizzard (much like birds)
Pharynx: is where the food gets wet with saliva, so it can move smoothly and break down.
Esophagus: Once the food is good and wet, it's pushed through the esophagus.
Crop: acts as a storage area for the food, until it goes to the gizzard.
Gizzard:is a muscular organ, filled with rocks that have been swallowed. The food is ground down so it can be absorbed.
Intestine: Once the leaves all ground up they move to the intestine where the digestive juices break them down even more.
Anus: Whatever is leftover comes out the worm's anus as castings or worm poop.
Click on the picture to the left for a great animation on worm digestion... it's by the North Carolina State University and will open in a new window. For more information on worm anatomy, check out HERMAN THE WORM.
Inside the Worm