Tanzanian Blue Ringleg Centipede

The Tanzanian Blue Ringleg Centipede (Scolopendra morsitans) is a chilopod in the Scolopendridae family of banded centipedes. It is also known as the Red-Headed Centipede. 

The Tanzanian Blue Ringleg Centipede has a wide, flattened yellow-gold to dark-slate body with black bands. It has a pair of antennae on its head and a pair of spikes on its tail. It has a segmented body, with 15 to 177 segments. 

It has one pair of legs for each body segment (in total it has 30-354 legs). No centipede has exactly 100 legs even though centipede means a hundred legs. Each pair of legs is slightly longer than the pair immediately in front of it. 

Tanzanian Blue Ringleg Centipede

It grows to about 10-15 centimetres (4-6 inches) in length.

It is found throughout southern Europe and around the Mediterranean Sea, in countries such as Bulgaria, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, and Greece, as well as North Africa. It prefers tropical or warm locations.

It is mostly nocturnal, active at night.

The Tanzanian Blue Ringleg Centipede burrows into the soil. It prefers dark, damp habitats, such as beneath logs and in leaf litter. 

It is a carnivore, eating insects, frogs, spiders, mice, and small lizards. It injects venom (poison) from its forcipules. The forcipules are not fangs and they are not mouthparts – they are modified short legs on the first segment of its body. The venom does not kill humans, but it can be painful.

The female Tanzanian Blue Ringleg Centipede lays 10-50 eggs in the soil and puts leaves over the top to hide them. She does not stay with her eggs. The eggs hatch after 30-90 days. The young centipedes have only four pairs of legs (8 legs) and as they grow longer with more segments, they also grow more legs. 

Tanzanian Blue Ringleg Centipede
Tanzanian Blue Ringleg Centipede

Location: Samburu, Kenya 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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