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House CentipedeFemale centipede guarding her eggs, from northern California.House Centipede (Scutigera coleopterata)Centipede in peat marshlands of Kawai NuiCentipede from northern California, protecting its eggmass
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Centipede Facts

Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
Common Name:
Most widely used name for this species
Scientific Name:
The name of the animal in science
The place where something is found
What kind of foods the animal eats
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
3-300mm (0.1-11in)
Number Of Species:
The total number of recorded species
Average Lifespan:
The average time the animal lives for
5 years
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Least Concern
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Yellow, Black, Orange, Red, White. Brown
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Favourite Food:
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
Decomposing matter on forest floor
Average Litter Size:
The average number of babies born at once
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from
Insects, Spiders, Worms
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Birds, Toads, Small mammals
Special Features:
Characteristics unique to this animal
Long body shape and venomous fangs

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Centipede Location

Map of Centipede Locations


The centipede is a speedy, carnivorous invertebrate that is generally found around decaying matter all around the world. Centipedes are not only carnivorous animals but the bite of the centipede also contains venom which means that the centipede kills its prey before eating it.

Despite their name, and the common conception that a centipede has 100 legs, this is in fact not true. The centipede has pairs of legs that run the length of the body of the centipede, which are normally between 15 and 30 pairs of legs in total and not 50.

There are thought to be around 8,000 species of centipede worldwide, although only about 3,000 have actually been properly documented and undergone intense studying in the scientific world.

The centipede can be found worldwide and has even been spotted inside the Arctic Circle. The centipede can range in size from a few millimetres to 30 cm long. The centipede has a bite that will be painful to humans but not fatal unless the human is allergic (like with wasp/bee stings).

The centipede is usually found on land in moist habitats usually under rocks, leaf litter, logs and occasionally in burrows in the ground or rotting wood. The centipede favours damp environments and so is rarely found in the hot and dry desert regions.

The centipede is one of the most dominant predators of the insect world, having claws on their first body segment is one of the centipedes noticeable traits. The centipede is a carnivorous animal and is therefore a pure meat-eater. Centipedes mainly prey on insects, spiders, earthworms and other small invertebrates although some large species of centipede have been known to prey on small mammals and reptiles.

The centipede has a number of predators in its natural environment although all the animals that generally prey on the centipede are relatively small. Birds, toads, frogs and small mammals such as shrews and mice are the most common predators of the centipede. The centipede is also seen by humans in certain cultures.

Female centipedes lay an average of 60 eggs per clutch which are coated with a sticky substance for protection. The female centipede usually buries her eggs in the soil and some species of centipede are known to nurse their eggs and baby centipedes but not all.

The centipede is one of the oldest animals on Earth having evolved into the form it is today, millions of years ago. The centipede has been found in fossils dating over 400 million years old.

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First Published: 14th November 2008, Last Updated: 8th November 2019

1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 14 Nov 2008]
2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 14 Nov 2008]
4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2009]
5. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 14 Nov 2008]