Velvet worm waiting in ambush

A velvet worm. Perched half a meter off the ground on a broad leaf. It was there waiting in ambush for its prey.

They are predators of small invertebrates using a tube structure near the front of it head to squirt a sticky slime residue to trap their prey.

You would never guess this by their demeanour. It did just this as I went to pick it up for everyone to see. They walk very slowly, with their many pairs of legs moving like a wave just like a centipede or a millipede. And just like their name they feel just like velvet. They are almost weightless as they walk across your skin.

The one that we found was a maroon-brown color but they come in all colors red, blue, and white to name a few. They are nocturnal and live in warm moist climates. Velvets worms form a monophyletic group that has two families. This family is known for being typically viviparous and is distributed around the equator in Central/South America, West Africa and South East Asia.

What is very interesting about this invertebrate is how prehistoric they are and that they have a very strange mating behavior. They breathe through simple diffusion throughout the entire surface of their body and it also is a sensory organ.

Even though Indigo is a reptile and amphibian research trip it doesn’t mean that you can’t pay attention to all the other wonderful critters in the forest.

That same night we found a few Kinkajous, sleeping monkeys and a very loud armadillo. Not to mention numerous snakes, sleeping lizards, frogs and toads.

– Bruce, Research Volunteer December 2013

Velvet Worms. Phyllum – Onychophora. Family – Peripatidae

Published : 25th February 2014


Field Notes Archive

You may also like to read…

Community Cloud Forest Conservation in Alta Verapaz

Community Cloud Forest Conservation in Alta Verapaz

Every year, at Community Cloud Forest Conservation, we have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about our amphibians and reptiles, because of the expertise of Indigo Expeditions that they bring in their expeditions, their volunteers that come here, and we have a lovely time with them. It’s really a wonderful time.

New caiman pool at La Aurora Zoo

New caiman pool at La Aurora Zoo

New caiman pool at La Aurora Zoo Indigo Expeditions met with Carlos Cozano, head of reptiles, to see the new caiman...

Indigo News