Giant bat-eating centipedes

The Venezuelan giant centipede, Scolopendra gigantea (Myriapoda), is a true terror. Like all centipedes, they are voracious venomous predators. Unlike all centipedes, they are enormous, reaching 300 mm (1 foot) in length. The giant centipede’s powerful neurotoxin and great size allows them to predate animals larger than themselves, including mice and bats…

Video and a description of their predation behavior below the fold.

Check out this video of a giant centipede capturing and eating a bat. It is narrated by the always awesome David Attenborough, from his Life In The Undergrowth series.

The centipedes climb to the ceiling of caves and snatch roosting or flying bats with their powerful frontal appendages. Then they…

“…inflict an initial puncture with their forcipules on the neck of vertebrate prey. This should quickly immobilize the prey because the neurotoxic venom is injected near the brain. The consumption of the [bat] began behind the bat’s head… [The centipedes then] started eating around the bat’s neck, continued into the chest, and then into the abdominal region” (1)

This occurs while the bat is paralyzed yet still alive; initially, at least.

Sweet dreams.

(1) Molinari et al., Predation by Giant Centipedes, Scolopendra gigantea, on Three Species of Bats in a Venezuelan Cave. Caribbean Journal of Science, Vol. 41, No. 2, 340-346.

11 Responses to “Giant bat-eating centipedes”

  1. 2 Roxanne September 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    How do these centipedes get into/ inhabit the caves, when one of the reason the bats (ghost-faced bat of Venezuela) maintain high temperatures is to avoid predators

  2. 3 Eliécer May 17, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    You can read the facts in the original paper we published years ago (including credits to the author of the photo):,_Ph.D./Publications.html

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Michael Bok is a graduate student studying the visual system of mantis shrimp.

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