Centipedes have been crawling around our planet for 430 million years. That’s how old some fossilized records of these creepy creatures are said to be, making them one of the earliest terrestrial animals still around. These horrors are found just about everywhere on Earth, including tropical rainforests, deserts and even the Arctic Circle. Most of us are familiar with the small and relatively harmless (albeit cringe-worthy) house centipede, but some of these leggy bastards can grow to be a foot long! These predator arthropods can pack a punch with their venomous bites which, while rarely fatal to humans, can cause fever, chills, swelling, and weakness – not to mention pain about 10 times that of a bee sting. Dare you to watch this video of the scourge of planet Earth without shuddering.
A Few Facts About Centipedes
- Contrary to popular thought, centipedes do not actually have a hundred legs. Depending on the species, they can have anywhere from 15 to 171 pairs of legs, one per body segment. Just picture 342 wriggling little legs coming at you.
- If they happen to loose a few legs in a fight, no big deal. They can simply regenerate them.
- Not all their legs are made for walking. The first pair are modified fangs called forcipules, used to paralyze their prey by injecting poisonous venom into them. Centipedes are the only arthropods that have these.
- Centipedes are nocturnal hunters who will catch insects, spiders, mollusks, other centipedes and sometimes even birds and frogs if they’re big enough.
- These suckers can run fast. They can scuttle 10 body lengths per second, which is way faster than any human sprinter relative to body size.
- There’s not much good to say about these hellish critters, but they apparently take good care of their young. Centipede moms dote on their offspring by wrapping their bodies around the eggs like a hug, protecting them until hatching time. Isn’t that sweet? Nah, we still don’t like them.
- Some (crazy) people do like them, though. Japanese often keep what they call gejigeji as pets. These are usually the ones with really long spindly legs, which makes it all the more horrifying. Ughhh!