Scolopendrid Centipede Click to enlarge image
Scolopendrid Centipede, Genus Cormocephalus Image: Jiri Lochman/Lochman Transparenc
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Genus
    Cormocephalus
    Subfamily
    Scolopendrinae
    Family
    Scolopendridae
    Super Family
    Scolopendroidea
    Order
    Scolopendromorpha
    Subclass
    Pleurostigmophora
    Class
    Chilopoda
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    5-10 cm

Introduction

There are five species of Cormocephalus, in the Sydney region. They include the largest, most aggressive and most frequently noticed centipedes.

Identification

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.


Scolopendrid Centipede
Scolopendrid Centipede Image: Jiri Lochman/Lochman Transparenc
© Jiri Lochman/Lochman Transparencies

Habitat

Scolopendrid centipedes live in urban areas, forests and woodlands.

Distribution

Several scolopendrid centipede species are widespread throughout Australia.

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

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.