Are Centipedes Poisonous?

If you have ever seen centipedes with their many little legs, you may have wondered if they are dangerous. They usually live outdoors in soil or under leaves, or they love to live inside of dead wood. It is important to know what kind of critters are unsafe so that you can avoid them.

Centipedes are poisonous. They have maxillipeds, which are a special pair of front legs that can wrap around their mandibles and inject venom into a person or an animal. When they catch their prey, they release poison from a gland below their fangs. Although their venom is poisonous, it isn’t normally life-threatening for people.

Don’t confuse centipedes with millipedes. They look very similar, but they’re different animals. Millipedes are not poisonous.

Are Centipedes Poisonous to Humans?

When you come into contact with a standard small centipede, you won’t normally have to worry about being poisoned. If the centipede bites you, it might hurt the way a bee sting would, but their maxillipeds aren’t strong enough to penetrate your skin.

However, if you encounter a larger species of centipede, they may inject the poison and it can be very painful. The pain can continue for a few days, but it isn’t usually life-threatening. You may have some swelling, and people feel nauseated in some cases.

Centipedes aren’t usually in the house, but they can hide in basements or other corners where it is dark and cool. Most of the time, they live outside in hidden areas, such as under a rock pile or leaves. If you reach into a woodpile and startle a centipede, that is when you are most likely to be bitten.

Centipede on log
Yay Centipede on log

If someone with an insect allergy is bitten by a centipede, they should monitor the reaction. In extreme cases, they might have severe swelling, chills, and a fever. In this case, it is important to seek medical advice.

Although most common centipedes don’t cause much of a problem, they should never be handled. Be sure to monitor your symptoms if you are bitten, and remember that centipedes are poisonous to humans.

Are Centipedes Poisonous to Dogs?

When people have their dogs outside, they want to make sure that they are safe from dangerous bugs and other toxins. Fortunately, although the venom in centipedes is poisonous, it isn’t toxic to dogs. Most of the time, your dog can get bitten or even eat the centipede without suffering any health issues.

The amount of venom a centipede carries varies depending on what type of centipede it is. Some of the large, dangerous centipedes can be very poisonous to your dog, but it is unlikely that your dog will encounter them. They are native to Southeast Asia and the Galapagos Islands, among other faraway places.

If your dog is bittern by a centipede, you should monitor the bite to make sure that it doesn’t become infected. You can always call your vet for advice, but generally, centipedes are not poisonous to dogs.

Yay Centipede

Are Centipedes Poisonous to Cats?

Anyone with a cat knows that they love to chase bugs. If you have seen a small centipede outside in the yard, you may be worried that it is poisonous to your cat. Generally speaking, small centipedes are also harmless to your cat. If your cat is bitten by a larger centipede, it could have a reaction, but it is unlikely that your cat will encounter these centipedes near your house. Normally, centipedes are not poisonous to cats.

Are Centipedes Poisonous to Livestock?

As is true of people, dogs, and cats, centipedes aren’t normally poisonous to horses, to goats, or to chickens. They aren’t usually poisonous to deer or other animals either. However, animals living out in the wild can encounter larger, more toxic centipedes. House centipedes are very small, and the amount of venom they inject isn’t enough to harm any living thing unless it has an allergy.

The larger centipedes, such as the giant centipede, can cause you or some animals to fall ill. However, even the most toxic centipedes are unlikely to kill a person or a small animal unless they already have an allergy.

What to Know About Centipedes

The name “centipede” literally means 100 legs, but they can have anywhere from 15 to 117 sets of legs. If they do get into the house, you won’t be likely to run into them because they are nocturnal. They are carnivorous, and they use their poison to kill their prey. They eat spiders, cockroaches, flies, and other small pests.

A centipede perched on a wooden log
Yay A centipede perched on a wooden log

The good news is that centipedes aren’t interested in people or their pets. If you or one of your pets is bitten, it is usually because the centipede felt threatened when you accidentally came upon it. If you are bitten, it might hurt, but it shouldn’t be harmful.

Symptoms of a Centipede Bite

You can identify a centipede bite because you will see two puncture marks on an area that is sore. You may see redness and swelling around the bite. The pain level varies depending on how much venom is injected into the bite. With a normal house centipede, there is very little venom, so it feels similar to a bee sting.

These symptoms begin as soon as you are bitten, and they can last a few hours up to a few days. If you have a more severe reaction, you need to look for nausea, fever, chills, extreme, immediate swelling, and other symptoms similar to those in people who are allergic to bee stings.

The reality is that there is only one recorded death from a house centipede bite, and it was back in 1932.

How to Treat a Centipede Bite

If you are bitten by a centipede, you can do the following to get some relief:

  • Apply heat right away to neutralize venom
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling
  • Take medicine to reduce pain, inflammation, or allergies
  • Keep the bite clean to avoid infection

If you are experiencing more severe symptoms, such as sudden swelling, nausea, or dizziness, you should seek medical care right away. Although centipedes aren’t dangerous in most cases, you should never take a chance with a potential allergic reaction.