Picture of a centipede - what do they eat?

What Do Centipedes Eat? The Answer May Surprise You

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Centipedes are a large classification of insects with various diets. House centipedes, stone centipedes, and scolopendra are all highly varied in behavior and food. There are even venomous giant centipedes that can take down small rodents!

But what is the full extent to what a centipede will eat? According to Britannica, there are roughly 3,000 species of centipede, though up to 8,000 are thought to exist. Read on to learn more about the diets of these various creatures!

What Do Centipedes Eat?

Centipedes are generally carnivorous predators. They have a pair of jawlike venomous claws just behind their head, though not all are harmful. House centipedes, for example, usually pose no threat. The giant centipede can cause severe pain and has even been blamed for deaths!

Here are some of the many things that constitute a centipede’s diet:

  • Spiders
  • Moths
  • Earthworms
  • Silverfish
  • Cockroaches
  • Crickets
  • Other centipedes
  • Small insects

Larger centipedes’ food can consist of snails and worms. Giant centipedes are exceptions, taking down prey up to 15 times their size, including lizards, tarantulas, scorpions, and more. 

What Are Centipedes?

Centipedes are defined as being “any of various long, flattened, many-segmented predaceous arthropods.” They have a range of legs, with some having as few as 14 pairs and others having as many as 177 pairs!

How Do Centipedes Hunt?

Centipedes are exceptionally quick predators. Some centipedes prefer to ambush their prey and will wait in the dark for them to pass, lashing out to snatch them up. Others will hunt into their prey’s nest, such as a giant centipede invading a tarantula’s home.

Most make use of their venomous claws to hunt. This venom can kill smaller insects and paralyze others, making it a quick meal. Others will simply wait until they can scavenge something up.

How Much Does a Centipede Eat?

Centipedes are often sedentary creatures, and can go a long way without a meal. Given that they’re mostly opportunistic hunters, they’ll wait up to a week before going to eat. Learning what to feed a centipede is easy. If you’re taking care of one as a pet, you’ll only need to feed it crickets or wood roaches every week or so.

What do centipedes eat in the wild? In the wild, centipedes will eat as often as they can and will range from crickets and spiders to other centipedes. They will often take their time and do so safely, scavenging up a meal from something sickly or left over. But what do centipedes drink? They enjoy water like most other creatures.

What Eats a Centipede?

Centipedes have plenty of predators. Birds and insect-eating mammals are common predators of the centipede. Spiders, other centipedes, and many more will take them down if they can. They’re far from apex predators but can defend themselves in many fights and hide to avoid conflict.

Tips from Our Vets

Though it may seem weird to try to identify different animals’ feces, there are many cases where you may need to do exactly that.

Many home and property owners come across animal feces and are concerned about what animals may be lurking. Being able to identify the feces that wildlife and rodents leave behind will not only let you know what animals are in the area, but also can give clues as to how many of them are present.

At first, it can be distressing to find foreign looking animal feces in your home or on your property. Fears of aggressive or rabid animals, as well as the diseases they may carry are often the first worries.

Protecting your family and pets is of utmost importance. However, taking the time to correctly identify the feces is essential in assessing the threat or risk from the animals.

This research will also enable a home or property owner to devise an effective strategy for keeping any pest animals out of their homes, barns, or other areas where they are not welcome.

Scat Identification Techniques

  1. The first thing to do if you come across scat, or feces from animals, is to observe the location of the droppings. Notice where the feces are in relation to buildings, other structures, other animals, water, roads, and vegetation. Different animals will place their droppings in particular locations and this can be the first clue to identifying them.
  2. Next, observe the placement of the scat. Are the feces hidden or buried? Are they randomly dropped all over an area with seemingly little regard for placement, or are they tucked away in corners or neat piles? These factors can greatly narrow down the list of possible culprits.
  3. Note the size of the scat. If you are investigating feces found in your home or on your property, it is a good idea to obtain a ruler or tape measure that you can use to measure. Some animals’ feces may look identical to others from the same family, and size may be the only distinguishing feature. *REMEMEBR: animal feces can carry both diseases and parasites so they should never be handled without gloves.*
  4. What is the shape of the found fecal matter? Some shape characteristics to look for include if the feces are round, tapered at the ends, completely tubular, round pellets, twisted, or moist mounds.
  5. An additional clue to the species of animal leaving the scat is what is included in the feces. Berries, hair, seeds, and plant parts should all be looked for in the droppings. This information can be used to identify the animal that left it.
  6. Lastly, look around the area where you first identified the scat. In cases of feces from animals that have similar appearing feces to another species, it can be helpful to search for nearby footprints or tracks left by the animals. This can be used to confirm species.

Final Thoughts on Centipede Diets

Though many find them creepy, centipedes are captivatingly interesting insects. When it comes to asking what do centipedes eat, the answer is typically anything that they can find! While they prefer live insects, a centipede will happily scavenge a meal if the chance arises.

Would you like to learn more about creepy crawlies and the other beauties of nature? Be sure to browse our website to learn more about your favorite animals!

If you’re looking for more information on animal diets, we created a guide to human foods dogs can and can’t eat, and you can also check out our resources on the diets of various animals below:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.