Amazonian Giant Centipede, Scolopendra gigantean

Image Caption: Puerto Rican Giant Centipede, Scolopendra gigantea; Vieques, Puerto Rico. Credit: Katka Nemčoková/Wikipedia  (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Amazonian giant centipede (Scolopendra gigantean), also known as the Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede, can be found in areas of the Caribbean and South America. Its range includes Saint Thomas, Grenada, Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the island of seychelles Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, the Trinidad Islands, and western and northern regions of South America. It prefers a habitat within tropical or subtropical rainforests.

The Amazonian giant centipede can reach an average body length of ten inches, although some individuals have been as large as twelve inches, making this one of the largest members of the Scolopendra genus. Its body is distinctly marked, showing 21 to 23 segmented areas. Each area holds two long legs, which allow the centipede to move quickly when hunting or in danger. Like other centipedes, this species has two sharp forcipules located on the head. It does not have good eyesight and depends on its antennae to locate prey and objects around it.

The Amazonian giant centipede is noted for being flighty and will not hesitate to run if it feels threatened. Is also known for its extreme aggression when finding food, and for its carnivorous diet. It will consume whatever it can catch, with prey items including insects and vertebrates like frogs, snakes, lizards, mice, birds, and bats. When hunting bats, it may climb walls to reach the ceiling of a cave, where it will latch onto a bat while hanging on by a few legs to the ceiling. No matter the prey type, this species will use its forcipules to inject a toxin into its food and then cut into the food to consume it.

The Amazonian giant centipede has highly toxic venom that can quickly kill small prey. This venom, although not deadly to humans, can cause severe swelling, pain, and redness and even chills, weakness, and fever.