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Giant Desert Centipede
(Scolopendra heros)
by Jon Fouskaris

Giant Desert Centipede
UNSEXED ADULT
Specimen provided by Patti DeNucci.
Photo taken by Jon Fouskaris.

       The Giant Desert Centipede is one of the world's largest species of centipede, not to mention, one of the prettiest. Although the venom from this centipede is not considered deadly, the Giant Desert Centipede can give a very painful bite and the venom injected could leave a person in pain from anywhere between a couple hours to a couple days! In 1931, a centipede taxonomist by the name of G. Attems listed three subspecies of Giant Desert Centipedes. These are the: Red-Headed Centipede (Scolopendra h. castaneiceps); as shown to the left, a beautiful jet black centipede with a red head and yellow legs, the Black-Tailed, also known as the Blue-Tailed Centipede (Scolopendra h. heros); a yellowish centipede with light yellow legs and a blue to navy blue tail, and lastly the Giant Arizona Desert, or Black-Headed Centipede (Scolopendra h. arizonensis); a red or orange centipede with yellow legs and a black head and tail, some with black stripes running across the tergites, parallel to the legs. The Giant Desert Centipede is a great display animal, and is a prized invertebrate in any collection.
Range Southwest United States, and northern Mexico.
Type Terrestrial, but will burrow to some extent.
Diet Babies will eat pinhead crickets, or other small insects. Adults will consume almost any creature that is not larger that itself, including large crickets, cockroaches, and even fuzzy mice.
Full Grown Size 6.5 to 8 inches.
Growth Medium speed.
Temperature 75 to 85 F.
Humidity 75 to 80%.
Temperament Aggressive and active.
Housing Babies can live in a roomy clear plastic container with air holes. Adults can live in a 5 to 10-gallon tank. The tank should be twice as long, and at least as wide as the individual. Floor space is as important as height. In this case, the height is not important for climbing, just to prevent escapes by the centipede running up the side of the tank.
Substrate 2 to 4 inches of peat moss, or potting soil.
Decor No decorations are really needed, but you can add rocks, or cork bark.
Other Names Giant North American Centipede, and Giant Sonoran Centipede.

*Please note that ALL centipedes have a certain amount of venom. Although most people are not seriously affected by this species, some people may be allergic to the venom, or just more sensitive, making it a dangerous situation. This is one of the reasons that people should not handle this centipede. Affects of this centipedes' natural defenses may vary between people. All centipedes should be considered dangerous, so be careful, because you don't want to find out if you are allergic or more sensitive the HARD WAY!

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