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Giant Centipedes are some of the largest terrestrial invertebrates on the planet. Some can even grow to a length of 12 inches! The word centipede means 100 legs, but no centipede has that many. Instead, most have around 42 legs with 1 pair per each body segment. A centipedes first pair of legs are modified into sharp, venom injecting fangs called toxicognaths (yes, I love saying that word). These fangs are used to catch prey and defend themselves from predators. The venom, although not lethal to humans in most cases, is very strong and is quite painful.


I have been bitten before and it was quite frankly one of the worst experiences of my life. It was my fault though, as I was being careless while handling it, and I accidentally pinched one of its legs. It reacted lightning fast and got me between the fingers. The pain was like burning needles, and lasted for 3 days. I absolutely do not recommend trying to handle a Giant Centipede. They won’t bite if you don’t agitate them, but they are extremely easy to set off, and they are very quick. Giant centipedes are expert predators, and are able to take down extremely large prey items such as mice, birds, and small snakes. Some even hang from the ceilings of caves in order to snatch bats out of the air! Once the centipede has grabbed a potential meal, it wraps its muscular body around the victim to keep it from escaping, and then proceeds to dig in while the prey item is still alive. Giant Centipedes have a relatively long lifespan, being able to live up to 10 years in captivity. There are over 3,000 species of centipede in the world, but only a handful are large enough to be classified as “Giant Centipedes”. 

These mostly consist of the animals in the genus Scolopendra. The most well known of these is Scolopendra subspinipes, the Vietnamese Giant Centipede. These massive invertebrates can grow up to 12 inches in length and can live for over a decade. The largest species in the world is Scolopendra gigantea, the Amazonian Giant centipede, and can reach an incredible length of up to 12 inches. Although these amazing creatures are often seen as nightmare fuel, I think they are absolutely incredible, and a fantastic part of creation!

Toxicognaths on a Giant Centipede