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Tarantula venom in comparison to centipede venom?

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by Draiman, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. Draiman

    Draiman Arachnoking

    Hello. Maybe this should have been posted in the Myriapods section but since this concerns tarantulas as well I thought I'd post here.

    I want to find out how similar tarantula venom is to centipede (specifically, Scolopendrid) venom, because I've been bitten by tarantulas before with very mild effects (localised pain, localised swelling; all symptoms disappeared in 24 hours). I haven't been bitten by a centipede, but I do own 4 large centipedes, and I don't want to find out the hard way that I am allergic to their venom. In short, I want to know if tarantula venom is similar to centipede venom; and if it is, then since I have had no allergic reaction to tarantula bites, I shouldn't have an allergic reaction to a centipede bite as well.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Venom

    Venom Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I would not expect any significant similarity.

    Centipede venom is completely different in effect and composition than tarantula venoms. Scolopendra centipedes ( such as S. heros ) are known to have cytotoxic compounds which can cause dermonecrosis--unlike any known tarantula. They also affect the nervous system in different ways than most tarantulas, causing an inordinate amount of pain. Whereas many tarantula venoms cause numbness and involuntary contractions of the muscles, centipede venom seems to affect humans primarily by stimulating pain receptors.

    Tarantula venom is hypoallergenic only because the toxins are composed of peptides, and not proteins. Peptides are a smaller molecule that are much harder for the immune system to detect and therefore react to. Centipede venom, however, is a combination of peptides and proteins, so that there are compounds in the venom which it would be possible to become allergic to. It is unlikely that you are already allergic, as there is no reason to believe you have been exposed to the compound. Usually, the first bite "sensitizes" you to the venom, and each successive bite provokes a worse, and worse immune reaction. However, it is still possible to have a reaction on the first bite. Don't count on being allergy-proofed with centipede venom.

    Allergy generally isn't the concern when dealing with Scolopendrid venom, as the stuff is plenty bad enough without any allergies. Just read the Scolopendra subspinipes thread in the Bite Reports forum.
  3. There's no way we can tell you if you'll be allergic to a certain animal. Being allergic to nuts doesn't tell you if you'll be allergic to shellfish. I know a guy that's allergic to bees but not wasps or hornets.
  4. deathfingers66

    deathfingers66 Arachnosquire

    10 years in the hobby and 100's of tarantulas owned, never bitten yet, but I can tell you this, I would rather get bitten by a tarantula, then a centipede any day. I also saw some stuff on, animal planet(who knows if it was true to fact) , about a guy who got bit by a pede, said he even lost his vision, for awhile and his hearing was messed up, that was just two of the symptoms, buggin with Ruud wont even handle pedes anymore after, getting tagged by one, he said he had paralysis in one of his arms.Granted getting bit by either, could be the worst day, or days of your life.
  5. Draiman

    Draiman Arachnoking

    Thank you for this comprehensive answer! Now I'm seriously reconsidering handling my Sc. subspinipes mutilans ever again.
  6. Kid Dragon

    Kid Dragon Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Tarantulas and centipedes aren't very related. Tarantulas are arachnids, and centipedes chilopods. Their venom is different as stated above.

    Nobody has ever died from a tarantula bite that I know of, but there have been a few deaths realted to centipede bites, but that is rare. Centipedes have been know to inflict mutiple bites in the same incident.

    A professor once told me if you are keeping centipedes, think of them like keeping mini-cobras. Use caution. They are not an arthropod to handle, they are strictly a display species. And more appropriate for adults, or minors that act like adults IMO.