Centipedes come in all sizes, and most are small cute little things. But others are really large, really tough beasts, such as Scolopendra dawydoffi, a member of the Scolopendridae family. Members of this truly fearless family of centipedes are known to attack lizards, nestling rats, birds and bats.
Now, a study published in the Journal of Insect Behaviour provides a graphic reminder that snakes are also on the menu.
Researchers found this centipede attacking a triangled black-headed snake (Sibynophis triangularis) in the forests of a biosphere reserve in Thailand. The snake was laying eggs at the time, and this may have played a significant role in the outcome of the assault, says lead author Michele Chiacchio, at the Sakaerat Environmental Research Station in Wang Nam Khiao District, Thailand.
“What is interesting is mostly the fact that the snake in this event was laying eggs, meaning she could not have escaped,” he says.
“If the centipede took advantage of this situation is quite speculative, but it could definitely be an option.”
The findings add a valuable dimension to our understanding of the biology of these poorly known animals, Chiacchio explains.
“Even small events like this are important in the field of natural history,” he adds.
“We know so little about anything happening out there, especially when it comes to small and sadly not particularly appreciated species.”
Karl Gruber is a biologist and science writer based in Perth, Western Australia.
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