Chinese red-headed centipede

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Chinese red-headed centipede
Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans DSC 1438.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Chilopoda
Order: Scolopendromorpha
Family: Scolopendridae
Genus: Scolopendra
S. s. mutilans
Trinomial name
Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans
L. Koch, 1878

The Chinese red-headed centipede, also known as the Chinese red head, (Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans) is a centipede from East Asia and Australasia[1] It averages 20 cm (8 inches) in length and lives in damp environments.

In ancient Chinese traditions, this centipede is used for its healing properties. It is said that putting a Chinese red head on a rash or other skin-disease will speed up the healing process.

The roasted dry centipede is pulverized and used in Korea for the treatment of back pain, furuncles and sores.[2]

Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans is known for harbouring little aggression to other centipedes, a trait very rare amongst giant centipedes and allows it to be kept communally.

Females are incubatoral mothers, guarding the eggs by wrapping their body around the clutch until it hatches.


The venom of the Chinese red-headed centipede contains a small peptide toxin called RhTx, which increases activation of the TRPV1 ion channel, causing a localized burning pain.[3] The crude venom is said to be toxic in mice and to induce platelet aggregation.[2] In addition, another 26 neurotoxins belonging to 10 different groups of peptides have been identified.[4] In January 2018 Chinese scientists found an antidote to the painful poison of centipede in the drug retigabine, used to treat epilepsy.[5]

See also[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

In Tokyo Ghoul, Jason uses a Chinese red-headed centipede to torture Ken Kaneki with, by sticking it into his left ear, as a way to mentally break him. Also in Tokyo Ghoul, Kaneki manifests an incomplete kakuja which represents a centipede, linking back to the torture he underwent. The “Dragon” of which Kaneki manifests into is shaped like a centipede at certain points as well.


  1. ^ "Australian Faunal Directory: Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans". Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage. Retrieved 10 June 2006.
  2. ^ a b Moon, Surk-Sik; Cho, Namsun; Shin, Jongheon; Seo, Youngwan; Lee, Chong Ock; Choi, Sang Un (1996-01-01). "Jineol, a Cytotoxic Alkaloid from the Centipede Scolopendra subspinipes". Journal of Natural Products. 59 (8): 777–779. doi:10.1021/np960188t. ISSN 0163-3864.
  3. ^ Yang, S., Yang, F., Wei, N., Hong, J., Li, B., Luo, L., ... & Lai, R. (2015). A pain-inducing centipede toxin targets the heat activation machinery of nociceptor TRPV1. Nature Communications, 6. doi:10.1038/ncomms9297. PMID 26420335
  4. ^ "Chemical Punch Packed in Venoms Makes Centipedes Excellent Predators". ResearchGate. May 1, 2012. Archived from the original on February 11, 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2018. Twenty-six neurotoxin-like peptides belonging to ten groups were identified from the centipede venoms, Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans L. Koch by peptidomics combined with transcriptome analysis, revealing the diversity of neurotoxins. These neurotoxins each contain two to four intramolecular disulfide bridges, and in most cases, the disulfide framework is different from that found in neurotoxins from the venoms of spiders, scorpions, marine cone snails, sea anemones, and snakes (5S animals).
  5. ^ Liangyu (January 26, 2018). "Chinese scientists find antidote to centipede venom". Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on January 26, 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2018. Researchers at the Kunming Institute of Zoology found in experiments using mice and monkeys that retigabine can effectively treat symptoms of centipede venom such as heart failure, epilepsy, and respiratory depression.

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