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Amazonian Giant Centipede Fact File

Scolopendra gigantea

Weight

Insufficient

Data

Length

30cm

(11.75in)

Lifespan

Wild 10 years

Captive 10 years

Diet

Carnivore

Insects, Bats

Conservation Status

IUCN

Not Evaluated

The Amazonian giant centipede is appropriately named as the world's largest species of centipede. They live in parts of South America.

These carnivorous animals are able to eat a wide range of animal prey including insects, small mammals such as bats, amphibians and lizards.

Males deposit their sperm on to a silk pad which the female can then collect and use to fertilize her eggs.

They are threatened by the spraying of pesticides.

Read on to learn more about these incredible invertebrates.

Appearance

Amazonian giant centipedes are most notable for their long body which features numerous legs down either side. They form part of the myriapod family with millipedes. Myriapod means 'many legs.'

Despite the name centipede meaning one hundred feet the Amazonian giant centipede only has 46. These are attached in pairs to a body segment with one on either side of the body.

Centipedes can be differentiated from millipedes as centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment compared to two per segment for millipedes. The body segments are colored reddish-brown while the legs are yellowish-brown.

On either side of the head are two simple eyes but these give them poor vision.

Most of their prey is found using the long, sensitive antennae which extend out from the head.

At the front of the head are the forcipules which resemble a claw. These are used to inject venom in to prey which they seize.

They can reach a body length of up to 30cm (11.75in) long.

Diet


Amazonian giant centipedes are carnivores. They feed on any small animals they come across including invertebrates, lizards, amphibians and small mammals such as mice or bats returning to their cave at night. These animals can hang upside down from cave roofs to catch food.

Once caught prey is injected with venom from the forcipules which will then paralyze or kill the victim allowing them to tear apart and eat the victim with little resistance.

Amazonian Giant Centipede (Scolopendra gigantea)

Range

South America is the native home of the Amazonian giant centipede. Here they can be found in northern parts of Colombia and Venezuela. They also occur on a number of offshore islands.

Habitat

They make their home in tropical and subtropical habitats. These include a damp habitat and this is necessary due to their skin losing moisture easily. Often they are found amongst the soil, leaf litter and rotten wood.

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Reproduction

Males will form a silk pad on to which they can deposit their sperm. The female will then pick this up and use it to lay her eggs.

Once they have deposited their eggs in a pile the Amazonian giant centipede will coil around her eggs to offer them protection.

These animals may breed twice each year.

Behavior

Amazonian giant centipedes breathe through the side of their body using long, triangle shaped openings which allow air to flow in to a system of tubes.

These animals are primarily nocturnal.

As they emerge at night these animals will rarely interact with humans. Bites have been reported to cause pain, swelling and nausea with death being a rare result.

Amazonian Giant Centipede (Scolopendra gigantea)

Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the Amazonian giant centipede include snakes, lizards, scorpions, large birds and mammals including small cats.

Their main source of defense is the forcipules which allow them to inject venom in to a threat. They can also move at high speeds making them difficult to catch.

They have been killed through the application of pesticides.

The species is yet to be assessed by the IUCN and as such data on their population is yet to be released.

Quick facts

The Amazonian giant centipede is the world's largest recorded species of centipede.

Amazonian Giant Centipede (Scolopendra gigantea)

Photo Credits

Top and Bottom

Syrio, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle One

Katka Nemčoková, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle Two

Tod Baker from Tianjin, China, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Woodward, J. and Bryan, K., 2016. DK knowledge encyclopedia Animal!. London: Dorling Kindersley

Meshew, C. 2001. "Scolopendra gigantea" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 30, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Scolopendra_gigantea/

Candide. 2021. Amazonian Giant Centipede (Scolopendra gigantea) – Insects | Candide Gardening. [online] Available at: <https://candidegardening.com/GB/insects/462ddc20-8f5a-49de-858c-517cfc962971> [Accessed 31 July 2021].

Proute, J., 2017. Scolopendra gigantea (Giant Centipede). [ebook] The University of the West Indies, pp.1-3. Available at:<https://sta.uwi.edu/fst/lifesciences/sites/default/files/lifesciences/documents/ogatt/Scolopendra_gigantea%20-%20Giant%20Centipede.pdf> [Accessed 31 July 2021].

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