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Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Visit of a Giant Centipede (Scolopendra gigantea)

Written by: Muoka Chibuzor

This morning at exactly 3 am. I was in my room at Ebonyi state where I serve Nigeria under the sun and in the rain. I was with my phone, surfing the Internet and just then a travelling rat came in through the space below my room door as it didn't lap perfectly to the floor, and I gave it a run back chase.

It wasn't the first time that the rat came and left scot free. The rat wasn't interested in my goodies but saw my room as a highway to its destination once it passes through my door to the window.

That was my first early morning exercise after staying in a sedentary position for the past 8 hours with my eyes closed, while oblivious of my surrounding.

I retired to my bed, relaxed, picked up my phone and kept doing what I was interrupted from doing.

Just then in a jiffy, I heard crawling movements on my carpet. Which sounded like water droplets falling continuously on a carpet from a height at the soundless hours of the night.

Lo and behold! I looked with undivided attention and I saw something long and black moving into my room with audacity.
Imagining a living rope, I wiped my eyes to ensure that what I was seeing was the practical reality.

Based on speculations, It measured up to 28cm in length and it entered via the same space below my room door.

Is this a snake? I asked myself.

Geez! I was thunderstruck! Frozen at one corner of my bed.

What kind of night is this? I thought in my mind.

Jesus! What on earth is this? But I got no reply.

I immediately, watched the black creature move with confidence on the wall, behind my bag, behind my books, behind my rack. And it obviously seemed as if it already had the architectural design of my room in grasp.

Then I was busy searching for the torch app on my smartphone. My heart beat was out of tone and my adrenaline level was rising, of which made me lose focus due to tension and vast thinking of what to do.

This app don't disappoint me ooh..., I was so tensed because my room was submerged in utter darkness except for the glimpse of light emanating from my dying oil lantern. I can't go to refill it, that would be a waste of time of which will grant the creature more time to gather momentum.

As I turned the light on, I immediately picked up my NYSC Jungle boot and laid an ambush in wait for the mysterious creature to come out from behind the objects in my room. I stood like a predator awaiting a prey. I dared not to miss or I witness another episode from the uninvited visitor.

I didn't want to instigate the runaway mentality in the vicious creature as I did to the rat because I wasn't ready to run away from my room either, at the wee hours of the morning.

Who knows where and in what direction it would run to? Or what happens if it defies my obstructive actions?

As the creature came out intrepidly, I looked at it closely and it was Scolopendra the Giant Centipede. It looked ready for a prey.

I never thought twice, I hammered my Heavy Jungle boot on it and it danced around fiercely while whining its deadly fangs in anger and in every direction. With the intention of dealing with whoever wants to deal with it.

I hammered my Jungle boot on it again and the giant centipede came to a grand halt. The mighty has fallen and the mysterious, demystified.
I breathe a sigh of huge relief.

Just then I recalled how a scorpion stung my neighbour in the early hours of yesterday. And how she shouted. I was dreaming then, but I woke up and ran out to see what happened. Her story later in the day to every passerby was dreadful.

I vowed to go find a carpenter immediately to come and fix the space below my door. As it now serves as a gateway for vicious creatures. Especially now that the rainy season has served as a kickoff start for the visiting of uninvited and infamous visitors.

I couldn't sleep again till dawn. I became wide awake.

In curiosity, I googled the Giant Centipede and got the results below -

Amazonian Giant (Peruvian Giant Yellow leg) Centipede - Scolopendra gigantea

Scolopendra gigantea (also known as Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede) is the largest representative of the genus Scolopendra, regularly reaching lengths of 26 cm (10 in) and can exceed 30 cm (12 in).

It is carnivorous, feeding on insects, lizards, frogs, birds, mice, and even bats. It is also known to prey on tarantulas.

The body consists of 21 to 23 segments which are coppery red or maroon in colour, each with a pair of yellow-tinted legs; the legs are adapted for fast walking.

The centipede has modified claw called forcipules which curve around its head and can deliver venom into its prey.

The extremely potent venom, containing acetylcholine, histamine and serotonin (pain mediators), proteases and a cardio depressant factor, is toxic to humans and causes severe swelling, chills, fever, and weakness.

Although bites are painful, they are very unlikely to be fatal to humans unless it gets directly into the human body. They cause severe pain and possible skin damage to humans.

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