This method of movement is especially Wowzerful when you consider that some species of velvet worm have more than 40 pairs of legs and can reach lengths of up to 20 cm!
The end of their little stubby legs features a moveable pad that they use as a foot.
When they need to grab on to something, there are a pair of retractable claws on each pad.
This is the reason for their scientific name, Onychophora or “claw bearers.”
While the velvet worm might not be super speedy, its flexibility and grippy paws make it a bit of a ninja when moving across difficult terrain or climbing.
And if all this wasn’t Wowzerful enough, we haven’t even talked about the two glue cannons on the front of their heads!
When threatened or stalking a meal, velvet worms shoot a fast-drying sticky slime out two floppy tubes on their face.
Want to see the slime-slinging action up close? Check out this video from bioGraphicMagazine.
While the spray is not very accurate, it covers a wide area and is very effective at pinning down bugs so the worm can catch up and go in for the kill.
Once they’ve trapped an unsuspecting beetle, termite, or other insect, they’ll saw into their shell or cut their skin using a knife-like fang and inject their prey with saliva.
This allows them to slurp up their meal without worrying about hands or a large mouth filled with teeth to break down the crunchier parts.
Spotting velvet worms is tricky because they’re small, slow-moving, and nocturnal.
They also don’t like light. Instead, they stick to damp, moist caves, leafy forest floors, and other places where you’re less likely to notice them.
So while they can be rare to spot, they are actually quite common.
They’ve been around for millions of years, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
If you happen to run across one while exploring the world, handle them with care and count yourself extremely lucky!