Scolopendra gigantean. Yep- giant centipedes. These creatures live in the warm and moist areas of the world, mainly in the South American Amazon, parts of the Caribbean, and, you guessed it, here on Vieques…though the chance of seeing one during a week-long vacation is very slim. It goes without saying that if you do see one, as tempting as it might be, do not cuddle, kiss or play with it.

Typically found in moist, shaded areas, these carnivores have sharp claws that they use to penetrate their victims’ bodies and inject venom. They feed on insects, tarantulas, small lizards, frogs, small birds, mice and even bats. The poison injected is toxic to humans and can cause chills, fever, nausea, and pain. If bitten, wash with soap and use ice and antihistamine for the swelling and itching.

All centipede species have an odd number pair of legs: that is to say a species may have 21 pairs or 23 pairs of legs, never 50 pairs of legs. That means you can’t find a centipede that has exactly 100 legs!

Centipedes can climb to the ceiling of a cave and hang from just a few legs to catch a bat in flight.

The centipede pictured here, found dead in a pool, is shown actual size but they can grow to be a foot long!

About The Author

Scott Appell
writer • horticulture

Scott D. Appell, the Green Man, originally from NYC, is a garden writer, horticultural taxonomist and ethnobotanist. He writes, gardens, and teaches horticulture. He happens to be a professional baker as well.

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