They may be characterized as very elongated reptiles without limbs (unless with tiny vestiges of posterior limbs), without eyelids and external ear openings, with the teeth anchylosed to the supporting bones, a bifid slender tongue which is telescoped into its basal half, and with a transverse vent.
Often the head is retractile, and a constriction of flexible cuticle distal to it is termed a neck: in Philodinaceae there are a series of thin flexible rings which permit both distal and proximal ends to be telescoped into the middle; and in Taphrocampa, regular constrictions of the whole bodywall give an appearance of metemeric segmentation to the body.
Agglomerations of consonants are often met with as initials, giving the appearance of telescoped words - an appearance which historical etymology often confirms. IVlany of these initial consonants are silent in the dialects of the central provinces, or have been resolved into a simpler one of another character.
The part of the foot which carries the claws is especially retractile, and is generally found more or less telescoped into the proximal part.