Scolopendra gigantea, also known as the Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede or Amazonian giant centipede, is one of the largest centipedes of the genus Scolopendra with a length up to 30 centimetres (12 in). This species is found in various places in South America and the Caribbean, where it preys on a wide variety of animals, including other sizable arthropods, amphibians, mammals and reptiles.
Distribution and habitat
It is naturally found in northern South America. Countries from which verified museum specimens have been collected include Aruba, Brazil, Curaçao, Colombia, Venezuela (including Margarita Island) and Trinidad. Records from Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Honduras are assumed to be accidental introductions or labeling errors.
Scolopendra gigantea can be found in tropical or sub-tropical rainforest and tropical dry forest.
Behavior and diet
It is a carnivore that feeds on any other animal it can overpower and kill. It is capable of overpowering not only other invertebrates such as large insects, spiders, millipedes, scorpions, and even tarantulas, but also small vertebrates including small lizards, frogs (up to 95 mm long), snakes (up to 25 cm long), sparrow-sized birds, mice, and bats. Large individuals of S. gigantea have been known to employ unique strategies to catch bats in which they climb cave ceilings and hold or manipulate their heavier prey with only a few legs attached to the ceiling.
At least one human death has been attributed to the venom. In 2014, a four-year-old child in Venezuela died after being bitten by a giant centipede which was hidden inside an open soda can. Researchers at Universidad de Oriente later confirmed the specimen to be S. gigantea.