Chinese red-headed centipede

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Chinese red-headed centipede
Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans DSC 1438.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Chilopoda
Order: Scolopendromorpha
Family: Scolopendridae
Genus: Scolopendra
Species: S. subspinipes
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 Popular Culture[edit]

  • In the manga and anime "Tokyo Ghoul", one of these centipedes is used in the torture of the protagonist Ken Kaneki, later become one of his themes.


  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. ISSN 0163-3864. doi:10.1021/np960188t. 
  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

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