Common Name: Giant Centipede

Scientific Name: Ethmostigmus rubripes

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Chilopoda

Order: Scolpendromorpha

Family: Scolpendrid

Genus: Ethmostigmus

Species: E. Rubripes

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The Giant Centipede is the largest native Australian centipede and grows up to 6.5 inches. Its coloration is dark-greenish-brown and to orange or orange-yellow with dark yellow legs. It is found in both dry and moist habitats, usually in sheltered places such as under logs, leaf litter and bark. It is solitary, terrestrial and a nocturnal predator. It is common throughout Austrailia, the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, Indonesia, Southeast Asia and China. They are elongated metameric animals. A key trait uniting this group is a pair of poison claws or forcipules formed from a modified first appendage. This also means that centipedes are exclusively predatory taxa, which is uncommon.

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Unlike Millipedes, with which they are often confused centipedes have only one pair of legs on each segment. Centipedes capture their prey with their "Poison Claws,’’ a specially adapted front pair of legs with fangs. Large species can give a painful bite. Worldwide there are estimated to be 8,000 species. Currently, there are about 3,000 described species. Geographically, centipedes have a wide range, which reaches beyond the Arctic Circle. Centipedes are also found in tropical rainforests to deserts. Within these habitats, centipedes require a moist micro-habitat due to their rapid rates of water loss. In addition, centipedes are among the largest terrestrial invertebrate predators and often they contribute a significant proportion to invertebrate predatory biomass in terrestrial ecosystems.

 

The centipede's diet contains of small prey such as; spiders, mice, slugs, bats, lizards, Etc. They are only aggressive towards their prey. They attack by injecting paralyzing venom into its prey so it can slowly but painfully eat its prey. It usually takes a centipede to eat a bat, and or mouse 3-7 minutes to finish it off. If it ever bites a human it will hurt painfully bad but some people say it’s just as bad as a wasp sting. What is really cool, that stands out is the fact that they are very fast and inject venom and they are only aggressive towards prey so it's like a snake except doesn’t show aggression towards humans only if cornered or messed with.

 

Author: Kyler G

Published: 02/2008

 

Sources: “Centepedes.” The Concord Desk Encyclopedia. Page 255-256.1997 “Ethmostigmus rubripes.” Wikipedia. 7 Oct. 2007. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 12 Jan. 2008 www.wikipedia.com. Mound,Laurence. Insect. First American Ed. New york: Alfred a. Knopf, 1990. Page 9

 

Photo Credit: John E. Hil