Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wild Kingdom

We live in close proximity to a number of critters. Some are cute and cuddly.

Some are cute and annoying.

Some are not fun to be around - especially for the dogs. They've been sprayed and quilled more than once. They just don't learn.

Some look scary, but are harmless.

And some look scary - and are dangerous.

We've had up close and personal encounters with a couple of rattlers, one coral snake, many scorpions, and more than one of these.

Even centipedes are bigger in Texas -- bigger and a lot more terrifying...

The massive centipede, commonly called a Texas or giant redhead, preys upon lizards and toads. They've been observed to sometimes catch and eat rodents and snakes.

Boasting between 21 and 23 pairs of legs, the centipede typically measures 6.5 inches in length, but can stretch up to 8 inches. The redhead doesn't always have a red head; being aposematically colored, the body and head can take on a variety of red and black patterns.

According the Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine, there's a story that a Civil War soldier died after being bitten on the chest by a Texas redhead while sleeping. The story is a tall tale, but the centipede does possess poisonous fangs.

Its fangs are actually a modified pair of legs, able to pierce the skin and deliver a painful toxin. In fact, all of the centipede legs are capable (to some degree) of "biting" and delivering toxin.

As frightening as they sound and appear, the centipede's bite is typically accompanied by only momentary pain and swelling. Occasionally, nausea and headaches follows -- and more rarely necrosis and cardiac arrest.

"While caution is certainly warranted when dealing with the giant redheaded centipede," the magazine explains, "downright terror is probably an overreaction."
Maybe so, but they are a truly terrifying sight. They're also aggressive. The ones we've encountered have all scurried towards us, not away from us. They're also like the broom in The Sorcerer's Apprentice - when chopped in half, each part stays alive and continues the attack.

We usually see one per year, usually in the garage or on the back porch, although we've killed a few in the house. So far no one (or no dog) has been bitten (knock on wood).

Life in God's Country...


Bag Blog said...

Is a centipede called a centipede if it only has 23 pairs of pedes? I have seen those giant redheads here in OK, but not up close and personal - only when someone caught one and brought it to me in a jar. Yuck! Scorpions are more of a problem. It seems they often live around the base of the house. When the door is opened, I have seen them come running in. I always wear shoes to open the door in the summertime. One day after the grand-kids had been here running in and out the house, we had a scorpion in bed with us. It stung my husband on his chest - actually his nipple. Yeah, it hurt him, but he was okay after a some babying.

CenTexTim said...

23 pairs = a centipede...? Close enough.

We've had a few scorpion stings. Like you said, painful, but not fatal.

Old NFO said...

Yep, there ARE things down there that will bite, sting, and chase you... Australia is even worse...

CenTexTim said...

Yes it is - the outback is hotter and drier as well.