T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Centipede (Giant) Cormocephalus rubriceps

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Myriapoda
Class: Chilopoda
Order: Scolopendromorpha
Family: Scolopendridae
Genus: Cormocephalus
Species: C. rubriceps
Binominal name: Cormocephalus rubriceps
Common name: Giant centipede

Cormocephalus rubriceps is a large centipede of the family Scolopendridae, and is
endemic to Australia and is wide spread in the North Island of New Zealand. It grows up to 25 cm in length; it is the largest centipede in New Zealand. 
This species can be still found in the North Island, but the full-sized ones are only found on the rat-free offshore islands like the Poor Knights. Found under stones and logs in bush or gardens.

It is large, fast and venomous and can deliver a poisonous bite using its razor sharp, claw-tipped pincers. It is a predacious carnivore feeding on insects, spiders, snails, slugs and worms after killing them with a lethal injection of poison. They also kill small lizards.
In New Zealand, introduced rats have reduced the numbers of these giant centipedes. Predatory ground beetles and large spiders hunt the juveniles. The female centipedes carry their young to protect them.

Photo of a 18 cm long C. rubriceps


A centipede with its last pair of legs raised.

Photos below is a Cormocephalus rubriceps of a dark colour, this is possibly due to an approaching moult or it that has not developed the orange colour of an adult. It was found in the Te Henui valley, New Plymouth.

The segmented antennae, sometimes referred to as "feelers," are paired appendages used for sensing.


The two rear appendages are legs.