Peripatus, also known as the velvet worm, is an invertebrate that has remained unchanged for over 500 million years. They are often referred to as a living fossil, and look like a worm with legs. There are up to 30 New Zelaland species, however currently only 9 have been named! Very little is known about the peripatus, but we do know they come out at night, they usually have between 13 to 16 pairs of stumpy legs on a worm-like body, and they spit goo to capture their prey. Most species are also ovoviviparous, which means the female stores the eggs, and gives birth to live young, The exciting thing is, one species of peripatus is known to be at Rotokare.
During my time at Rotokare, I will be implementing peripatus monitoring across the sanctuary. By surveying a variety of bush types, terrain types, and orientations, we hope to gain an understanding of the preferred habitat of the the peripatus, and gain an understanding of the total population and species present at Rotokare. This will involve mapping out quadrats around the sanctuary, then orgainsing groups of volunteers to search them. The quadrats will be kept to 5x5m, and any peripatus will be returned if found.
Have you ever found a peripatus?