Though centipedes inhabit almost every corner of the Earth, most people do not know much about the hundred leggers. The house centipede sometimes startles people by showing up in bathtubs or sinks, but this is only one of an estimated 8000 species in the Class Chilopoda. Here are some interesting facts about the centipede you might not know. The centipede is the only arthropod known to have poison claws for subduing the prey. The legs of the centipede’s first segment are not for walking. Instead, they are modified to form venomous fangs, which they use to inject paralysing venom into prey. These special appendages are known as forcipules, and are unique to the centipede. Though their common name means one hundred legs, the centipede can have significantly less or more than 100 legs. Depending on the species, a centipede can have as few as 15 pairs of legs, or as many as 171 pairs. Regardless of the species, the centipede always has an odd number of leg pairs, so they never have exactly 100 legs.
You might think that the centipede is harmless, but it is actually categorised as a predator. Though some will occasionally scavenge a meal, the centipede is primarily a hunter. The smaller centipede will catch other invertebrates, including insects, molluscs, annelids and even other centipedes. The larger species, which inhabit the tropics, can consume frogs or even small birds. The centipede will usually wrap itself around the prey and wait for the venom to take effect before consuming the meal.
You would not probably expect a centipede to be a good mother, but a surprising number of them dote on their offspring. The female soil centipede and topical centipede lay an egg mass in underground an burrow. The mother wraps her body around the eggs and remains with them until they hatch, protecting them from harm. Most of the centipede species are built for speed. With the exception of the slow moving soil centipede, which are built to burrow, Chilopods can run fast. The body of centipede’s body is suspended between in a cradle of long legs. When those legs start moving, this gives the centipede more manoeuvrability over and around obstacles, as it flees predators or chases prey. The tergites, the dorsal surface of the body segments, may also be modified to keep the body from swaying while in motion.