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Centipede species: scolopendromorphs 

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Cormocephalus westwoodi (Newport, 1844)

Cormocephalus westwoodi

Cormocephalus westwoodi is common under stones, woody litter and eucalypt bark in eastern Tasmania from sea level to at least 1070 m. It has not been found west of the Central Plateau or west of Penguin on the North-West Coast. C. westwoodi is one of Tasmania's most familiar centipedes because it is often carried into backyards in firewood. It is also our largest centipede, reaching 60 mm in length. Mature females can be found brooding their eggs or young in rotting logs in spring and early summer. First collected in the Sydney area more than 160 years ago, C. westwoodi has an unusually wide natural distribution: Tasmania, the east coast of Australia from Victoria to far north Queensland, New Zealand, New Guinea, the Loyalty Islands, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and southern Africa.

Like many scolopendrids, C. westwoodi makes an interesting pet. I collected the animal shown above in January 2003 and kept it in my office for the next eight months before releasing it, fat and healthy, in my backyard. 'Cormo' lived in a plastic box with air-holes in the lid and a floor of moist paper towels (changed regularly to prevent mould growth). It ate crickets and grasshoppers from the garden. For more information on keeping scolopendrids as pets, see one of the excellent websites on this topic. Be careful when handling any scolopendrid to avoid being bitten. The bite is painful and people with sensitivity to animal venoms may suffer serious symptoms.

Koch (1983), Mesibov (1986) 

Tasmania mapCormocephalus westwoodi


Cryptops hortensis Donovan, 1810

Cryptops hortensis

Image copyright Tim Ransom (UK), used with permission

Cryptops hortensis was introduced to Tasmania from Europe. It is known from gardens in Hobart and the Northwest, but is probably much more widespread in the State. It has not been found in the bush. A second possibly exotic Cryptops was found in a Burnie park in 1993 but has not yet been positively identified. C. hortensis grows to 30 mm long in my garden in Penguin.

Jeekel (1999), Lewis (1981) and references there, Mesibov (1986) 

Tasmania mapCryptops hortensis


Undescribed native Cryptops species

I have sorted five native Cryptops from Tasmanian collections and deposited them at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (Launceston) and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (Hobart) as 'Cryptops sp. A', 'Cryptops sp. B', etc. All look very much like C. hortensis to the naked eye. Until this group is properly worked up by a scolopendromorph taxonomist, users of this guide should refer to all native Cryptops simply as 'Cryptops sp.'. The distributions of the sorted forms are shown in the maps below. All five live in wet forest and woodland, or the moister parts of dry forest. Females brooding eggs and juveniles can be found in moist rotting logs during the spring and summer.

Mesibov (1986)

For Cryptops aficianados only:
A and D both have head overlapping T1, with a T1 'collar' groove; D has paramedian grooves on the head, A doesn't
B, C and E have T1 overlapping head, and no T1 'collar' groove
B has no complete paramedian grooves on any tergite
C has complete paramedian grooves starting T6, while in E the grooves start further back


Tasmania mapCryptops sp. A

sp. A

Tasmania mapCryptops sp. B

sp. B

Tasmania mapCryptops sp. C

sp. C

Tasmania mapCryptops sp. D

sp. D

Tasmania mapCryptops sp. E

sp. E