‘Minibeast’ is the collective name for many small animals, including spiders, slugs and snails, worms, insects, centipedes and many other things. Minibeasts are also called invertebrates, which means they do not have backbones – instead, some, like insects and spiders, have a hard shell (exoskeleton), and some have soft bodies, like worms and slugs.
There are more than 25,000 different kinds of invertebrates in Britain.
Slugs have four noses but only one foot.
Slugs and snails lay eggs.
A land snail can lift up to ten times its body weight.
Vermicomposting is making compost using worms, and uses tiger worms (also called red wigglers or brandling worms).
Worms can eat their own weight in food in a day.
Worms can have more than one heart – some have five or ten.
Worms have been around for about 600 million years.
An African giant earthworm can be up to 6.7 m long.
Centipedes can live for up to six years, and have from fifteen to over a hundred pairs of legs.
See ‘Watching Minibeasts’ for more information.
Insects have six legs.
Insects’ bodies have three parts – head, thorax and abdomen.
The total weight of insects on the planet is more than all other species put together.
There are more than 22,000 different kinds of insects in Britain.
Beetles are the most common insects on the planet.
Fairyflies (actually a parasitic wasp) are the smallest insects, with males as small as 0.139 mm long.
Adults dragonflies have the biggest eyes of all insects.
There are fossil dragonflies dating back 300 million years.
A head louse can change colour to help it hide in someone’s hair.
After having their heads cut off, cockroaches can live for nine days.
The stag beetle is the biggest beetle in Britain and can be up to 85 mm long.
The larvae of the Goliath beetle can weigh 100 g.
Titan beetles (including antennae) can be up to 21 cm long.
Beetles have two pair of wings, and the outer pair protects the wings that are used for flying.
There are about 2000 different types of bees in the world, but only four can make honey.
Bees never sleep.
Bees need to visit 2 million flowers and fly 55,000 miles to make a pound of honey.
Spiders are arachnids.
The total weight of insects eaten by spiders each year is more than that of the human population of the world.
A strand of spider silk is twice as strong as a strand of steel of the same size.
Spiders’ bodies have two parts – the thorax and abdomen.
Spiders have eight legs and each leg has eight joints.
Not all spiders spin webs.
Some spiders have eight eyes.
The fear of spiders is ‘arachnophobia’.
The Goliath Birdeater, a kind of tarantula, it is the largest spider in the world. This spider eats insects and other invertebrates, as well as mice and lizards, and is up to 30 cm across, from leg tip to leg tip.