Giant red-headed centipede: Big, bold, and venomous

Giant red-headed centipedes, also known as Texas red-headed centipedes (also known as “what the…???!!!”) are fearsome-looking bugs. They’re huge – averaging 6 or 7 inches (15 – 18 cm) but occasionally reaching up to 12 inches (25 cm) – and they’re venomous, with a sting that those unfortunate enough to have experienced it liken to that of a bee or a scorpion.

Even though they’re centipedes, they have only 21 or 23 pairs of legs, not the 50 their name would seem to require. Watching this video, you’ll probably agree that 21 pairs of legs is more than enough. This critter can move pretty fast.

And as if being huge, excessively leggy, and venomous weren’t enough, these guys are hungry. According to Texas Hill Country ( they can kill and devour creatures many times their size and are known to eat lizards, snakes, and frogs.

We were fascinated to see this giant red-headed centipede in the tree stump den but we hope it keeps its distance and doesn’t decide to move into the house. We can cope with scorpions – they don’t run very fast and they’re easy to pick up and put outside – but a centipede like this might be very hard to catch.



      1. OMG. I was extremely creeped out. Have been snake hunting , catch and release, a few times and not scared of snakes but this guy was CrEEpY! I managed to get him contained and released him back by the creek. I’m still looking for any eggs in the house 😵‍💫🤣

        1. I would NOT have been happy. These guys can grow to 12″ long. I also am not afraid of snakes – I like to think I could reason with a snake – but a 6- to 12-inch venomous centipede in the house might prompt me to move back to New Zealand.

          Dan and I are wondering if perhaps our centipede was the same one you found and released by the creek. Next time, if you could just paint one of his toenails, maybe we could recognize him?


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