Velvet Worm: 19 Facts You Won't Believe!

Velvet worm facts about the velvet worm species known to prey on insects.

Velvet worms (Onychophora) belong to the family Peripatidae and Peripatopsidae and phylum Onychophora. These onychophorans are also known as claw bearers. The Onychophora species is 500 million years old. Euperipatoides rowelli and Peripatoides novaezealandiae are the species of velvet worms. This species is very commonly confused with the centipedes. They are naturally modified arthropods that prey on smaller insects. These worms have a body cavity that is filled with fluids, which is a trait that helps them keep more hydrated. The females of this species have variable breeding habits. Some deliver eggs, some half incubated eggs whereas some deliver young ones.

Velvet worms' mouth cleaning after feeding and before rejoining the remainder of the group is a unique trait. Here are some more fascinating facts about the velvet worm (Onychophora). Afterward, do have a look at our other articles on flatworm facts and giant African millipede facts as well.

Velvet Worm

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Small Invertebrates

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

Up to 0.03 oz (0.85 g)

How long are they?

0.3-7.8 in (0.7-19.8 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Red, Blue

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Habitat Loss, Predators

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them








Scientific Name



Peripatidae, peripatopsidae



Velvet Worm Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a velvet worm?

A velvet worm, euperipatoides rowelli, is a  worm species known to prey on smaller insects. This particular species has been on Earth for more than 500 million years.

What class of animal does a velvet worm belong to?

A velvet worm, peripatoides novaezealandiae, belongs to the Arthropods class of animals.

How many velvet worms are there in the world?

The exact population of velvet worms, in the world, has not yet been determined. But there are over 200 species of velvet worms onychophorans found all over the world. There are more and more varieties existing nowadays, like red velvet worms and blue velvet worms.

Where does a velvet worm live?

A velvet worm (Onychophora) lives in the woods. But the reason behind the velvet worm's rare status is that they are extremely difficult to locate even in their natural habitat.

What is a velvet worm's habitat?

A velvet worm’s habitat consists of tropical forests, woodlands, temperate forests, coastal regions, etc. This species of animals live in wooden logs, leaf litter, rotting things, etc. They live in damp places.

Who does the velvet worm live with?

Velvet worms (Onychophora) live with onychophorans of their own family in onychophoran species based on their navigation.

How long does a velvet worm live?

Velvet worms (phylum Onychophora) have a long lifespan. These 500 million years old onychophorans can live up to six years.

How do they reproduce?

Velvet worms have very diverse reproductive habits. Males of some species leave their sperms on the females’ bodies while some directly insert in their vagina. The females of some onychophorans are viviparous, some are oviparous and some are ovoviviparous. The breeding season and incubation periods are different for different species. The female onychophoran is the least dominant species.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of velvet worms (phylum Onychophora) is that of Least Concern at present for their population faces no threat.

Velvet Worm Fun Facts

What does a velvet worm look like?

The velvet worm is an important attraction at the Australian Museum.

Velvet worms are of two colors, these are blue velvet worms and red velvet worms. They look like regular worms but have a velvety appearance. This species has a range of overlapping scales which limits their water intake. They have stub feet. The velvet worms' eyes are very tiny. The velvet worm mouths are circular in shape and are surrounded by lips.

How cute are they?

Velvet worms have a cute appearance due to their velvety hairs. But after all, they are worms and they can be ugly to some.

How do they communicate?

Velvet worms communicate with the help of chemical signals called pheromones. These chemical signals are secreted from their body. The signals are transmitted through soil, air, and water. These signals can give information about food, prey, and predators.

How big is a velvet worm?

A velvet worm is a very small species. It can grow in the range of 0.3-7.8 in (0.7-19.8 cm) in length.  A medium-sized velvet worm is 20 times bigger than an ant.

How fast can a velvet worm move?

A velvet worm can move at the same speed as most worms. The exact speeds at which they move have not been calculated.

How much does a velvet worm weigh?

A velvet worm is a very lightweight species. Their weight ranges up to 0.03 oz (0.85 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

No specific names are assigned to the males and females of the velvet worm species. They are known as male velvet worms and female velvet worms.

What would you call a baby velvet worm?

A baby velvet worm is known as a larva.

What do they eat?

Velvet worms are carnivorous worms. They prey on small invertebrates. Their prey includes insects such as termites, spiders, and woodlice.

Are they poisonous?

Velvet worms secret saliva that has the ability to immobilize their prey. The saliva is very effective against insects but does not have any effect on humans. Their bites can cause pain but are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

Velvet worms are known to be exotic pets. They are not easily available. With proper maintenance of suitable habitat conditions, velvet worms would make excellent pets. Their food requirements are easily attainable which makes velvet worm care easy.

Did you know...

Velvet worms have between 14 and 16 pairs of stumpy legs.

The structure of arthropods can be recreated from velvet worms.

The Australian Museum has a beautiful collection of velvet worms.

Are velvet worms rare?

No, velvet worms are not rare. Their population is abundant in the world but they are difficult to locate in their habitat.

What phylum does the velvet worm belong to?

The velvet worm belongs to the Ecdysozoa superphylum. This is further classified as Panarthropoda. They belong to the phylum Onychophora.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other animals from our worm snake facts and house centipede facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable velvet worm coloring pages.



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