10 largest centipedes in the world

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Scolopendra are large centipedes that live in places with warm and hot climates. According to the biological classification, the genus Scolopendra belongs to the class of Lipopods (Chilopoda). There are about 8 thousand species of scolopendra. In many people, they cause fear, and it is largely justified – their bite is very painful, and poison – unlike other centipedes, scolopendra are poisonous – can be dangerous for humans, especially if there is an allergic reaction. Meanwhile, there are people who are attracted to these unusual animals, and they can keep the scolopendra at home.

The ability of a centipede to instill fear in people depends on its size – they are more afraid of large arthropods. The article will talk about the most terrifying and dangerous, attracting the most attention, centipedes – the largest centipedes in the world.

The largest centipedes in the world

Nomination a place Name of product Maximum length
The largest centipedes in the world 1 Scolopendra gigantea (up to 35 cm) 35 cm.
2 Scolopendra heros (up to 20 cm) 20 CM.
3 Scolopendra subspinipes (up to 20 cm) 20 CM.
4 Scolopendra cataracta (up to 20 cm) 20 CM.
5 Scolopendra alternans (up to 18 cm) 18 CM.
6 Scolopendra galapagoensis (up to 17 cm) 17 CM.
7 Scolopendra viridicornis (up to 16 cm) 16 CM.
8 Scolopendra hardwickei (up to 16 cm) 16 CM.
9 Scolopendra polymorpha (up to 16 cm) 16 CM.
10 Scolopendra cingulata (up to 15 cm) 15 CM.

1st place: Scolopendra gigantea (up to 35 cm)

Rating: 5.0

Scolopendra gigantea

The largest centipede in the world bears the corresponding name – the giant centipede. The natural range of the species includes the north and west of South America, as well as the islands of Trinidad and Jamaica. The usual length is about 23 centimeters, it can reach 25-30 cm, the maximum fixed is 35 cm. Consists of 21-23 segments with a pair of legs extending from each of them. Body color is copper or brown, legs are bright yellow with red hips. Antennae consist of 17 segments, of which 9-12 are without setae.

The giant centipede feeds on other animals, sometimes even larger than it – insects, spiders and scorpions, frogs, lizards, snakes, birds and bats. Attacking prey, centipede injects poison into the victim's body. The poisonous glands are connected by ducts with the claws of one of the pairs of front legs, which pierce the attacked animal. In self-defense, the centipede can inject poison into a person.

Giant scolopendra venom contains hormones and enzymes such as histamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, lecithin and hyalulonidases that increase tissue permeability. For small animals, the dose that scolopendra injects is lethal. In a person, the bite causes local edema, which disappears after a couple of hours, sometimes malaise within a few days.

2nd place: Scolopendra heros (up to 20 cm)

Rating: 4.9

Scolopendra heros

The California centipede is the second largest after the giant. It lives in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, in arid regions. The average size is 17 centimeters, in the wild it grows up to 20 centimeters, in captivity it can grow even longer. It has 21-23 segments. The front part of the body is orange, the back is black. The coloring is of a warning nature – predators are afraid of poison and do not attack.

This centipede is nocturnal. A predator, it feeds on insects, which it catches right in the air, amphibians, reptiles and rodents, immobilizing the victim with poison. The poison contains histamine and serotonin, proteins, including protein cardiotoxins, enzymes for partial destruction of tissues. It also contains two different neurotoxins – one paralyzes the nervous system of insects, the other suppresses the nervous system of vertebrates.

Even a simple touch of the poisonous limbs of this centipede is painful for a person. However, the poison is not very dangerous and most often causes only a local effect – pain and swelling of the skin. There have been isolated cases of more serious symptoms, including kidney failure and heart attack, but deaths following the bite are unknown.

3rd place: Scolopendra subspinipes (up to 20 cm)

Rating: 4.8

Scolopendra subspinipes

Vietnamese, or red-headed centipede, is the third longest in the world, can reach 20 centimeters. It lives in East Asia and Japan, on the islands of the Indian Ocean, in Australia, South and Central America. There are several subspecies of it. Has 22 segments. Body color is usually red-brown or red with orange-yellow legs. Some subspecies may be colored differently, for example, have a bluish body coloration, but the head remains red or red.

The habitat is swampy forests. This species feeds mainly on spiders and scorpions; large individuals can attack mice and small reptiles. Scolopendra grabs prey with its limbs and then bites with its jaws, injecting poison, and then holds the victim until the animal dies. The poison can be dangerous for humans, once a bite of an individual of this species caused the death of a seven-year-old girl in the Philippines. No cases of death of adults were recorded. It happens that a centipede climbs into shoes and bites a person when he, not noticing a centipede, begins to put on shoes.

Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans – a subspecies that lives in China – in Russian is called the Chinese red scolopendra. This species is smaller, only 14-16 centimeters, but it also has a strong poison – the mouse dies half a minute after being bitten. In Chinese traditional medicine, it is used to treat skin diseases – a scolopendra head is applied to the place where a rash or other skin problem is observed.

4th place: Scolopendra cataracta (up to 20 cm)

Rating: 4.7

Scolopendra cataracta

This species is endemic to Southeast Asia, inhabits the territory of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Body color is greenish-black, length up to 20 centimeters. A feature of this species is the ability to swim and spend time under water – if the centipede is scared, it seeks to hide not in the forest, but in the water stream. In the thickness of the liquid, this centipede moves with the help of horizontal wave-like body movements, it can also move along the bottom. The integuments of her body are hydrophobic; after going on land, no drops remain on them.

It was discovered in 2001, when the English biologist George Beccaloni arrived in Thailand to celebrate his honeymoon. Swimming near the waterfall, he was surprised to find a giant centipede, which after his appearance tried to hide at the bottom under the stones. The biologist caught it and, placing it in a container of water, took it to the British Museum. However, colleagues did not believe in the existence of a floating centipede. Only 10 years later, when two more specimens were found in Laos, the discovery of a new species – the first known aquatic species of scolopendra – was confirmed. The species was named cataracta, which means “waterfall” in Latin.

5th place: Scolopendra alternans (up to 18 cm)

Rating: 4.6

Scolopendra alternans

Scolopendra alternans is a species that lives on the islands of Central America and the northern coast of South America, Cuba, Jamaica, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands. The length reaches 18 centimeters. It differs from the Vietnamese in a large number of small spines on the front pair of legs – at s. subspinipes there are only two or three of them. This is a rare trait in scolopendra, except for s. alternans, only s. galapagoensis and giant centipede. The antennas contain 17 segments.

Body color may vary from region to region. Individuals are often found with dark green legs and body, as well as a black head (in young individuals, the body may be blue), or a green body, yellow legs and a red head. Yellow individuals are found in Florida, on the island of Key West.

The species is sometimes kept in captivity by lovers of exotic animals. Scolopendra requires a constant supply of water, humidity 60-80%, low temperature, close to room temperature (18-21 ° C). They feed her with insects, such as cockroaches.

6th place: Scolopendra galapagoensis (up to 17 cm)

Rating: 4.5

Scolopendra galapagoensis

This species lives in the rain forests of North America and islands off the mainland – in Ecuador, northern Peru, Galapagos Islands, Chatham Island and the western slopes of the Andes. It grows up to 17 centimeters long, with an average of 20 segments. It has a characteristic color – a brown back, the blue color of the sides turns into pink. The jaws are red. In antennae, the first 4-7 segments are blue with a steel sheen, the rest are orange or red. The jaws are also painted red. Legs are yellow, closer to the body the color turns to orange.

This scolopendra feeds on insects and rodents. The poison is fatal to these animals, but not to humans. Because of its beautiful color, some animal lovers keep it. In captivity, scolopendra are fed with crickets and cockroaches, occasionally (no more than once a month) mice can be given. This species prefers high humidity (80%) and room temperature. It can also breed in captivity, but it often happens that a centipede disturbed by people eats its eggs or juveniles.

7th place: Scolopendra viridicornis (up to 16 cm)

Rating: 4.4

Scolopendra viridicornis

Scolopendra viridicornis, or Amazonian giant centipede, is a rare species found in South America in the Amazon rainforest. It grows up to 16 centimeters in length. It has a head and dark colored segments with a red border around the edges. Legs are yellow with black stripes, the last segments are red, the hindmost pair is cherry-colored. It is distinguished from other species by an oblong groove in the middle of the last tergite – the dorsal half ring of the last segment.

The effect of this type of poison was studied in mice. They died from 12.5 mg of poison per kilogram of weight when administered intramuscularly and 1.5 mg / kg when administered intravenously. They also investigated a peptide extracted from the venom of this centipede, called lacrain. This peptide destroys gram-negative bacteria, while not destroying human blood cells, which makes it possible to use it as an antibiotic. In Brazilian folk medicine, the venom of this scolopendra is also used as a pain reliever.

8th place: Scolopendra hardwickei (up to 16 cm)

Rating: 4.3

Scolopendra hardwickei

S. hardwickei, or Indian tiger centipede, lives on the Indian Peninsula, Sumatra, and the Nicobar Islands. Reaches 16 centimeters in length. In addition to size, it has a unique coloration similar to that of a boa constrictor – red or orange and black body segments follow each other. The legs are the same color as the light segments of the body, with the exception of the rearmost pair, which is colored black.

It feeds and shows other activity most often at night, during the day it hides under stones and in holes. Food – mainly insects, can eat young mice. Cannibalism is possible in captivity, therefore they are kept alone. Mating, as in all scolopendra, occurs through the transfer of the spermatophore from male to female. The female buries eggs in the ground to a depth of several centimeters, incubates them and takes care of the hatched larvae for several months. Individuals become adults at the age of three, the life expectancy of this species is up to 7 years.

9th place: Scolopendra polymorpha (up to 16 cm)

Rating: 4.2

Scolopendra polymorpha

S. polymorpha is a species that can be found in Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona, Nevada. Coloring can be completely different, due to the variety of forms of the scolopendra and was named polymorpha. Each species may have its own 'commercial' name, such as “Texas brindle” or “Arizona” centipede. The head is usually red, orange or brown, the body segments are lighter, orange or brown with a transverse dark stripe on each, the limbs are yellow. The size can also be different, from 10 to 16 centimeters. Antennae have 25-31 segments, 7-12 of them are glabrous, the rest are covered with setae.

This species lives in arid places – in deserts, steppes, forests. Often, individuals are found in rotting debris, among boards, logs, old mattresses. In captivity, it requires low humidity (35-50%), with its increase, mortality increases. It feeds on insects – crickets, beetles, can eat cockroaches. Individuals are active at night and in the morning, the rest of the time they spend in shelter.

10th place: Scolopendra cingulata (up to 15 cm)

Rating: 4.1

Scolopendra cingulata

Ringed scolopendra is a European species that lives in the south of the mainland and in the Mediterranean, where it is the most common type of scolopendra. Copies were found in Bulgaria, France, Spain, Italy, North Africa. The average length is 10 centimeters, it can grow up to 15 cm – in Europe it is the largest species. The color is striped, the golden-yellow body segments alternate with black. Antennae are blue.

Lives in forests, on the soil surface and in the soil litter, often near ravines, hiding in fallen leaves. The poison is not very dangerous for humans, it is weaker than that of other species. However, a portion of it is enough to immobilize the animals that this centipede preys. This scolopendra is an opportunistic predator, which means that it can eat almost any animal that fits it. Most often these are insects and lizards.

Since individuals of this species are smaller in size than representatives of the species listed above, and their poison is less dangerous, lovers of exotic animals often choose it for keeping at home. Scolopendra cingulata prefers moderate (60-75%) humidity and room temperature.

Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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