Land Shark???

Scolopendra heros, known commonly as the Texas giant centipede or the giant redheaded centipede, is the largest centipede that occurs in the central United States (Arizona to Arkansas and Texas to Kansas) and can reach 8″ in length.  In the first week of August we found two individuals of this species active at Caprock Canyons State Park where one was wedged in a tree feeding on a true bug and the other was moving about quickly on the ground.  Their diet consists primarily of insects and other invertebrates but these big guys have been found to capture and eat small snakes and small mammals.  Centipede refers to 100 legs but in the case of this centipede they only have 21 pairs of legs, 1 per body segment, with the last pair being enlarged and marked in warning colors (aposmatic coloration).  I have watched this video dozens of times and cant get over how this centipede’s body plan allows it to swim, slither, crawl, and in short bursts, skim over any substrate.  While these are certainly high on my list of species I do not want to be bitten by, most human envenomations result in localized pain for a short period of time.  We left the centipedes like we found them but with a great deal of respect for their size, strength and speed.  Jessie and I both had to touch the active individual to keep in “on the set” so to speak and when touched they fling their body in an arch towards you amazingly quickly, like a mouse trap firing.  Play nice when you enjoy these other-worldly predators or you may develop a fast understanding of why they display warning coloration.

3 thoughts on “Land Shark???

  1. I also love to watch their multiple legs swim across anything and everything. It’s amazing how such a small animal can induce such painful bites.

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