They can be larger than your foot. They are carnivorous and prey in the dark, damp places. They’ll use their venomous pincers to bite you. And as the venom enters your bloodstream, you’ll feel excruciating pain. Would you survive this elongated monster’s attack?
Giant centipedes live in tropical or subtropical areas. The largest in the world can be found in South America, can grow up to 30 cm (12 in) or even more and can eat mice and lizards 15 times their size. Giant centipedes are aggressive creatures. They aren’t afraid of a fight. And if they can fight with deadly rattlesnakes, kill them and eat them, imagine what they can do to you.
Why shouldn’t you take off your shoes? How could hot water save your life? And how fast could their venom kill you?
Step 1. Grab something hot
If a giant centipede bites you immediately apply heat or hot water to the wound. This will help to dilute the venom. But you’ll need to act fast, as some centipedes can kill prey 15 times their size in 30 seconds flat. A toxin in the venom closes the channels that pump potassium in and out of cells, which is critical to have a regular heartbeat. The venom can also attack the your cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems.
Step 2. Beware of their speed
If you see a giant centipede crawling on the floor don’t come near it. They are surprisingly fast creatures, with long legs and many of them. Centipede means 100 feet in Latin, but don’t be fooled by the name.
Depending on the species, these arthropods can have up to 191 pairs of legs. So when those 382 long legs start heading for you, you’d better start running. And centipedes can modify their bodies to travel even faster. The tergites on the back of their body segments can change to keep the body still while they’re in motion, which helps them reach a higher velocity as they chase their prey.
Step 3. Read the signs
Giant centipedes are sneaky hunters and they hide very well. They don’t try to live in human areas but they might take shelter in a cluttered area of your home. If you come in contact with one, don’t pick it up or handle it roughly. This will trigger to defend itself. It will let you know it’s ready to attack by raising the front part of its long body, similar to the way a cobra snake moves. That’s your cue to get the heck out of there. And call for some help, like an exterminator.
Step 4. Get medical help
In 2020, in Thailand, a gigant centipede bit a 52-year old boxing champion on the leg. He had chills and dizziness but he didn’t seek medical treatment until he was seriously ill. The man had diabetes which caused complications, and died from a blood infection. So if you’ve been bitten get immediate medical care.
Step 5. Put on some shoes
While you’re hiking in a jungle or any tropical forest area, wear closed-toe shoes and proper clothes. Remember, giant centipedes are hunters and if you step into their natural habitat chances are they will attack your feet or even your legs. If their pincer-like tips pierce your skin, it will feel extremely painful. You can avoid that by covering your skin, especially the areas near to the ground.
- “Centipedes Never Have 100 Legs And Other Fascinating Facts”. Debbie Hadley. 2021. Thoughtco.
- “Giant centipedes can kill prey 15 times bigger than they are, thanks to this critical toxin”. 2018. Science | AAAS.
- “Centipede Bites: Effects And Treatment”. 2021. medicalnewstoday.com.
- “Giant Centipede Bites 52-Year-Old’s Leg, Man Dies Of Infection”. Suman Varandani.