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Centipede facts for kids

Updated April 17, 2017

With their long skinny bodies and multiple legs, centipedes are often mistaken for insects. They are not insects but arthropods, which means they have segmented feet. Found all over the world, the centipede comes in many sizes and colours and make up some of the oldest fossils. The University of California Museum of Paleontology estimates that centipedes have been around for about 400 million years.

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How many legs?

Because of its name, most people assume that centipedes have 100 legs. This isn't true. A centipede has between only 15 and 30 pairs of legs that run the length of its body. That's still a lot of legs!

What do centipedes eat?

Centipedes are carnivorous. This means they mainly eat other small invertebrates such as worms, spiders or insects. They have claws on the first segment of their bodies and are venomous. This venom gives them an advantage in killing prey and protecting themselves, but is not lethal to humans.

Where do they live?

Centipedes prefer a dark, moist environment. They can most often be found under rocks, leaves or rotting wood. Centipedes are nocturnal and they move very fast, which is why they aren't often seen in the daytime.

What are a centipede's enemies?

Centipedes make a tasty meal for frogs, birds and small mammals such as mice. The centipede protects itself with its venom and also with its speed and ability to stay hidden.

How are they born?

A female centipede will lay around 60 eggs and bury them in the ground. Some centipedes stay and take care of the eggs, while some leave them to hatch on their own.

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About the Author

C.K. Wren graduated in 2001 from Utah State University with dual degrees in history and technical writing. She has written extensively for Demand Studios as well as several magazine publications.

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