Animal Species:Scolopendrid centipedes
There are five species of Cormocephalus, in the Sydney region. They include the largest, most aggressive and most frequently noticed centipedes.
Photographer: Jiri Lochman/Lochman Transparencies © Jiri Lochman/Lochman Transparencies
Standard Common Name
All scolopendrid centipedes have 21 pairs of legs and the last pair is sometimes red. These last legs are longer and thicker than the other legs and are used to catch their prey.
Several scolopendrid centipede species are widespread throughout Australia.
Scolopendrid centipedes live in urban areas, forests and woodlands.
Other behaviours and adaptations
Scolopendrid centipedes prefer moist conditions such as soil and leaf litter. The narrow breathing holes or spiracles along the sides of their body have a three-flapped valve and muscles that open and close the holes, making the centipedes less susceptible to drying out.
For animals that spend most of their time living in the dirt, centipedes groom and clean themselves carefully, passing all of their legs over their maxillae (mouthparts) to remove moulds and parasites.
Danger to humans and first aid
Scolopendrid centipedes may bite if disturbed or handled. The bite may cause severe pain and associated swelling. An ice pack may relieve local pain. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.