What is a Minibeast? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lindsy Frazer

Dr. Frazer has taught several college level Science courses and has a master's degree in Human Biology and a PhD in Library and Information Science.

In the trees and grass of your very own backyard roam minibeasts! Learn what these creatures are and what makes them different from other living things you might encounter in the wild.


Reach your hand around to the middle of your back and press gently. Can you feel the bones that make up your backbone, also called your spine? Because we have a backbone inside our bodies that gives our bodies shape, humans are vertebrates. Not only do skeletons with backbones prevent vertebrates from living life as shapeless blobs, they also serve the important job of protecting a living thing's soft parts, like organs, and helping a vertebrate move around.

But, having a skeleton is actually pretty rare. Far more living things do not have a backbone than do. In fact about 97% of living things don't have a skeleton with a backbone inside their bodies. These creatures are called invertebrates.


Invertebrates are all around us and we often call them by different names. Minibeasts is another name for invertebrates, many of which are small, or 'mini,' creatures.

Invertebrates are minibeasts.

Some of the smaller minibeasts include worms, butterflies, spiders, beetles and shrimp. Some not-so-small minibeasts include lobsters, octopuses, squid, corals, starfish and jellyfish. While these creatures might not seem to have much in common they all lack a backbone.

Many Minibeasts

Without skeletons how do minibeasts keep their shape and protect their organs? Different types of minibeasts use different strategies to deal with not having a backbone. Lets explore two types of minibeasts and how they protect themselves.


Insects are a type of minibeast with six legs, a three-part body and an antenna. They also have a skeleton outside of their body to protect their organs. This outside, or external, skeleton is called an exoskeleton. An exoskeleton is like the hard, colorful shell on an M & M that surrounds the soft chocolate center. The crunch you hear if you step on a bug is the sound of the exoskeleton cracking. Eww!


Minibeasts can even be found in water. Mollusks are a type of minibeast with bodies that are soft and not divided into sections. These minibeasts like to live in damp or watery places.

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