The common name for onychophorids is ‘velvet worms’ due to their soft skin which can be brightly coloured. There are approximately 155 described species.

Velvet worm segments are not obvious and can only be defined due to the regular spacing of their stubby legs called ‘lobopods’, which are hollow and jointless.

Onychophorids have:

  • between 13 and 43 pairs of legs
  • small eyes
  • a pair of slim antennae
  • crescent-shaped mandibles which tear apart their prey
  • slime glands on either side of the head 

The slime, which can be propelled up to 4cm, is used to trap prey (such as insects), as well as for defence.