Dioctophyme renale




Rev 10/19/2022

Giant Kidney Worm Classification Biology and Ecology
Morphology and Anatomy Life Cycle
Return to Dioctophyme Menu   Ecosystem Functions and Services
Distribution Management
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Phylum: Nematoda
Class:    Chromadorea
Family:  Dioctophymatidae

  Dioctophyme renale Goeze, 1782

The name of the genus was variously spelled as Dioctophyme or Dioctophyma for 200 years until the International Commissioon on Zoological Nomenclature determined the correct spelling as Dioctophyme in 1989. However, both spelling versions appear in the literature.

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Morphology and Anatomy:







Reported median body size for this species (Length mm; width micrometers; weight micrograms) - Click:


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Neartic, Neotropical : Asia, Europe, North America, Brazil.

Occurs in  temperate forest and grassland, tropical rainforest, freshwater lake, freshwater rivers


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 Hosts: Common parasite in minks, domestic dogs, wild mammals of North America, Europe, and Asia. 

Although human infections are rare, the giant red kidney worm is the largest nematode parasite known to infect them, adult females can reach over one meter in length.

The genus has been spelled as both Dioctophyma and Dioctophyme. Diocophyme is the preferred version by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.

Humans may be infected by consumption of  molluscs that are infected with Dioctophyme renale.

While the most common host is mink, intermediate and definitive hosts may include: annelids, freshwater molluscs, crustaceans, fishes, frogs, mink, domestic dogs, man, and grisons. 

When the worm's intermediate host is a fish, it lives and feeds in stomach tissue.

In the definitive host it feeds in the kidney, usually the right kidney of its definitive hosts.

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Biology and Ecology:


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Life Cycle:

Dioctophyme renale has a complex reproductive cycle with two aquatic intermediate hosts and a carnivorous definitive host.

Eggs of Dioctophyme renale develop in an aquatic (freshwater) environment and hatch into an aquatic larval stage that uses an annelid as an intermediate host.  In the annelid, it develops into a third larval stage. 

Once it has developed into its third stage, it seeks either freshwater molluscs, crustaceans, fishes, or frogs, as a second intermediate host. 

The secondary intermediate host is then consumed by a carnivore which becomes the definitive host. 

The most common definitive host is the mink and the process is repeated when infected mink urine containing the worm eggs is transmitted into an aquatic environment.

Life cycle of Dioctophyme renale


Ecophysiological Parameters:

For Ecophysiological Parameters for this species, click If species level data are not available, click for genus level parameters

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Ecosystem Functions and Services:


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Barros, D. 1990. "Dioctophymosis in the little grison". Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 538-539.

Measures, L. 1985. "Centrarchid fish as paratenic hosts of the giant kidney worm, Dioctophyma renale". Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 11-19. Editor: Parker, Sybil P. "Nemata" . Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms. 1982 McGraw Hill Inc. 879-890.
Key to Parasitic Nematodes 1991

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Copyright © 1999 by Howard Ferris.
Revised: October 19, 2022.