Centipedes can be found many places in the world but flourish mostly in tropical and temperate environments. They range in sizes from less than inch to over a foot dependent on species. Centipedes are venomous, carnivorous and they are born hunters. Centipedes are some of the fastest arthropoda in existence. They are usually flat which helps them with speed. For the most part, centipedes are nocturnal arthropods. Most centipedes are long lived, some are known to live up to six years. Centipede actually means “hundred-legged” but they have anywhere from 15 to 180 pairs dependent on the species. Centipedes are land creatures but still require a moist environment to survive.
The home of a centipede usually consists of a dark, moist place. Some live in bark on the trees, under leaves or burrow making their homes underground. They need moist places because they do not have the wax layer most insects have that keeps them from drying out.
Most centipedes come out at night to hunt. Dependent on species and size they will eat anything from very small insects to small rodents, birds or even bats. Centipedes will grasp their prey and then inject venom with their front claws, killing it. They will then hold their prey with their front legs and maxillae while consuming the insect.
If a centipede feels threatened it will usually bite and inject venom into whatever it feels is threatening it. This venom is usually not very poisonous to humans. Its strength is compared to that of a bee or wasp sting. There are some species that do have nastier venom that can cause cramps and sickness but most centipedes are not known to be deadly unless you are allergic.
Sexing a centipede is no easy task. Their genitals are actually inside the last segment of their body. In a good amount of centipede species the females grow slightly larger and fatter than the males. Other species of centipede have different colors in the two sexes. Lastly some species you can tell from looking at their terminal legs but you would have to research your species to do this.
First, do a little research on your species as some species mate differently than others. Mating can be tricky and you should keep an eye on your centipedes during this process. First get something that is large enough to give both of them plenty of running room for breeding. If either of them starts to show any type of aggressive behavior make sure to separate them immediately and try breeding them again at a later time. If they do not seem to have interest in the other go ahead and separate them also. Dependent on your species the male will either approach the female or he will make what is called sperm web. If it is the type that mates directly they will slowly touch antennae and then the male will proceed to approach the female backwards. This is to get their terminal legs entangled so he can transfer the spermaphore. If you have a species that makes a sperm web you might not even need risk putting them together. Try getting a tank with screen separating the two sides. Then put male and female on each side. Watch and see if the male puts down a sperm web. If so then remove the male and open the rest of the tank up. With luck the female will go and collect it with no danger to either centipede.
Centipedes are not seen as often in the pet market as other invertebrates such as tarantulas. They come in many sizes, colors and temperaments. Many are very aggressive eaters making it fun to watch them. They range in price from a few dollars to over one hundred dollars dependent on the species.
Before purchasing a centipede there are a few things to consider. Make sure to read up on the species you are purchasing because not all centipedes take the same exact type of care. Also do realize they are NOT a pet that you usually want to hold or play with. They are very aggressive and will bite if they feel threatened. Most centipedes require warmth and moister. If you can not provide a warm enough environment, do not get one or you will be wasting your money as it will die.
Ailments and Diseases
There is not a lot of research into centipede ailments or diseases. Most that are in captivity end up dying from old age. There are few things you can watch out for. If your centipede is not eating it could be caused by dehydration or being too cold. Make sure to give your centipede plenty of water and keep it in a warm environment. Another problem that can occur is fungus. If you see black dots appearing on them or growth around their legs or on antennae it might be that you are keeping your centipede too wet. If this is the case remove the centipede from their current container and put them in with some paper towels and a water dish till the fungus has cleared up. Do not wet the paper towels. You are trying to keep a more sterile, clean and dry environment. Lastly mites are sometimes a problem. If you notice mites on your centipede the best way to get rid of them is with a mite that eats other mites(Hypoaspis Mites). You can purchase these online.
Question: Are centipedes deadly?
Answer: Most centipedes are not deadly. Most have a bite that is equal to a bee or wasp sting. Some have more potent venom that can cause cramping and sickness. Do remember if you are allergic it can kill you just as a bee sting can kill.
Question: Can you hold a centipede?
Answer: There are many people that hold their centipedes. I do not encourage it but it is possible with properly researched, responsible handling.