Scolopendra morsitans

SPECIES ACCOUNTS

Physical characteristics: Adult scolopenders measure up to 5.1 inches (130 millimeters), with the females usually larger. They are variable in color, with the head and body yellowish or brown with darker bands. Each side of the head has a small cluster of four simple eyes. The antennae have seventeen to twenty-three segments. The body has twenty-one pairs of legs.

Geographic range: This species is found throughout the tropics and other warm regions, including Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, much of Africa, Madagascar, South and East Asia, and Australia, with a few records in tropical South America.

Habitat: The scolopender's habitat varies; they are found anywhere from desert to rainforest.

Diet: They eat spiders, mites, flies, beetles, ants, termites, cockroaches, and other centipedes. Captive individuals will attack small frogs and toads.

Scolopenders hunt at night and spend their days in leaf litter, under logs, or beneath loose bark. (C. B. Frith/Bruce Coleman Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Behavior and reproduction: Scolopenders hunt at night and spend their days in leaf litter, under logs, or beneath loose bark. When threatened they can run fast or burrow quickly in leaf litter. They are active throughout most of the year in the warmer parts of their range.

Males deposit a bean-shaped sperm packet measuring 0.01 inches (2.5 millimeters) onto a web. Females dig brood chambers in soil under rocks and lay twenty-six to eighty-six greenish yellow eggs. In Nigeria, the young reach adulthood within a year, with two generations produced each year.

Scolopenders and people: This species may bite if threatened or carelessly handled.

Conservation status: This species is not considered endangered or threatened. ■

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