Giant Centipedes are generally found in tropical climates around the world, with the largest centipede species, originating in the Amazon rainforest regions of South America. However, smaller species can be found on most continents, including Europe. Smaller species of centipede can also be found in the UK.
Popular amongst experienced exotic pet enthusiasts, these fascinating invertebrates have much to offer pet owners, from their quirky appearance to their interesting behaviours. However, they do have unique care requirements and it’s important to do your research before making a decision as to if giant centipedes are the best choice of pet for you.
About Giant Centipede
Their given name ‘centipede’ actually means ‘100 feet’! Yet, the number of feet varies from 20 to 300 across the vast number of species.
The largest species, the Amazonian Giant Centipede, has around 46 legs and can reach to up to 35 cm in length. They are dark red/maroon colour with yellow colours legs.
They are carnivorous, predatory animals and in the wild their main diet consists of rodents, frogs, birds, lizards and other insects such as crickets. They are fast moving to allow them to easily catch and kill prey using fangs to inject paralysing venom.
Typically Centipedes can live up to 6 years and are best kept
Pet Giant Centipedes
It should come as no surprise that centipede can be particularly ill-tempered and can be quite aggressive in their nature, making them an interesting choice of pet!
Giant Centipedes are venomous and can indeed be harmful to humans, with a bite causing swelling, pain and in some cases even fever. Yet, they don’t usually do this unless for self-defence when feeling threatened. Suffice to say, if you’re looking for an insect to handle, this is certainly not the pet for you.
It really is about what you’re looking for in a pet. Many hobbyists keep insects because of an interest in observing their fascinating behaviours and rarely wish to handle them. Handling Giant Centipedes is not something that will benefit either of you. If you’d like an insect to handle, a Giant Millipede would be a better option to consider.
Whilst pet centipedes do pose a few challenges, if you’re looking for an active, interesting pet and you’re happy to provide the specific care needs, a Giant Centipede could indeed be an appropriate choice for you. However, if you’re new to keeping invertebrates then you may wish to consider starting out with another insect to begin with.
The care needs of your Giant Centipede should play a part in your decision-making process, as they have very specific requirements to keep them in optimal health.
The key to successfully keeping a Giant Centipede is to match their natural environment as closely as possible. They thrive best in warm, damp and humid conditions, which mimic their natural rainforest habitat.
Therefore they should be kept in a tall, secure glass vivarium or terrarium. Heating the tank to the required temperature and misted with water will create the necessary humidity. These elements need to be consistently monitored to ensure the correct levels.
In the wild, Giant Centipedes spend their time burrow through the damp dense leaf litter on the rainforest floor. Therefore, the tank needs to be set up with several inches of suitable substrate and log or bark hides to allow them to exhibit their natural behaviours.
As predatory species, Giant Centipedes require live food to keep them active and mirror their natural behaviours. Releasing live crickets and cockroaches are the ideal choice for this and providing defrosted small pinkie mice on occasions.
This type of food can be easily acquired in exotic pet stores and in suitable online stores.
Therefore, as a potential centipede owner, one thing you will need to be ok with is keeping and feeding live prey and the occasional dead baby mouse! If this doesn’t hold any appeal, perhaps another pet might be more suitable. For example, Giant Millipedes do not eat live prey and are similar to Centipedes.
Remember there are many pet insects to choose from, all with different care requirements. Spend some time looking into alternatives to be sure you are making the best choice.