Red Headed Centipede : Scolopendra heros castaneiceps
Giant redheaded centipedes are not frequently observed or collected, but those that make themselves known attract a great deal of attention because of their size and fierce appearance. Specimens average about 6 ½” in length, and they may reach nearly 8” in some instances. They have been called “giant desert centipedes,” but this appears to be a misnomer because the centipedes are often collected in rocky woodland in Arkansas. The species is also known to occur at least in Arkansas, southern Missouri, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and northern Mexico.
All centipedes are believed to be predators. Their diet is composed primarily of small arthropods, although some scolopendromorphs have been found feeding on toads, small snakes, and other vertebrates. Moths are a preferred diet for captive giant redheaded centipedes. The prey is captured and killed or stunned with the poison claws. Poison glands are located in the basal segments of the claws or fangs, sometimes called maxillipeds. Each gland drains its toxic contents through a small opening near the tip of the fang.
Scolopendra heros is purported to make tiny incisions with its legs while walking across human skin. When the animal is irritated, a poison is supposedly produced near the base of each leg and dropped into the wounds causing inflammation and irritation.
Scolopendromorphs lay eggs, often in cavities hollowed out in pieces of decayed wood, and then they watch over them and the juveniles that hatch. The female winds herself around the egg mass, her legs directed toward the eggs. Scolopendromorph and geophilomorph juveniles possess the same number of legs as do the adults. Juveniles of the other centipede orders have only seven pairs of legs on hatching. S. heros are nearly colorless when freshly hatched, but they soon turn brown, and they eventually take on the distinctive color pattern of the adult.