A wide variety of animals eat earthworms, including rats, birds, foxes, moles, shrews, snakes, frogs, snails, salamanders, skunks and toads. Some insect species such as ants and beetles also feed on earthworms.
Earthworms play a major role in the food chain. Many different animals eat them, and because there are large numbers of them in many parts of the world, they are often readily available as a food source. Although earthworms are blind and do not have feet, they can evade predators. They can sense vibrations in the soil above them and burrow deeper into the soil when they sense a disturbance. Some species also let off secretions that taste bad, making them less appealing. Although a worm cut in half cannot grow into two separate worms, a worm can grow a new tail if a predator bites into the end of its body.
Earthworms also play a key role in the food chain in an indirect way. They feed on soil and decomposing plant matter and excrete the digested matter and many of its nutrients into the soil, enriching it for plant life. They can also help bring minerals located deep in the ground to the soil surface, where plants can easily access them. Earthworms can help organic gardeners fertilize their soil and make fruit and vegetable plants more productive as well.