Centipede Farms in China?

LawnShrimp

Arachnoangel
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Dec 9, 2016
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Note: This is a highly hypothetical situation and also contains a pretty stupid idea.

So you know how you see all those pictures of large Scolopendra being sold as street food in China and other parts of Asia? If not, a simple "centipede as food" Internet search will provide you with enough background.

The majority of these centipedes appear to be S. subspinipes mutilans, which is known for its communal living in captivity. Due to this nature, I suspect that there are some forms of centipede farms in China that mass-produce centipedes for consumption. Either that, or these street vendors are catching wild centipedes and feeding them so silly tourists, which is a despicable idea. What is the possibility of such a farm existing?

Also, what is the legality of bringing back a centipede from China? If I was to, say, hide a centipede in a container and stuff it in my backpack, would there be any sort of penalties if it was confiscated? What if it was just a pedeling and barely large enough to be noticed?
 

LawnShrimp

Arachnoangel
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(used car salseman voice) "Just want to know, 'cause if the cost and time needed for the more legal means of obtaining large Scolopendromorphs, outweigh the risks of the, shall we say, alternative methods, then certain people might be intersted...."

Just kidding. This is a stupid and veryverybad idea. Would never do this.
 

DubiaW

Arachnobaron
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Jan 10, 2017
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In know a guy that received a brown box shipment of T's from Brazil that ended up doing three years in prison. He was caught because they monitored his internet messages when he arranged for it. The United States charged him with a crime and the sender in Brazil didn't have any repercussions. So, I would say this is a very bad idea.

I also know a guy that had a friend in Europe that sent him some Forest cobras as a "surprise present" (his story not mine). Game and fish showed up at his house and looked through all of his stuff for for other venomous snakes and evidence that he had prior knowledge of the shipment. They seized the cobras and didn't charge him with anything because he didn't have anything illegal at his house. That was over twenty years ago though.

A centipede farm in China is very possible, although I would imagine there would be more S. s. mutilans in the pet trade if that were the case (providing they are not more valuable sold as folk medicine). There is a viper farm in China that breeds for culinary and commercial products, ranging from skins and meat to gall bladders (for folk medicine) and "pooled" venom for the production of antivenin. The PhD that I worked under went over there to help them bring their venom operation up to today's standards. Currently venom is more profitable if you sell it in single specimen samples for the purpose of isolating unique snake venom proteins that have medical uses. After isolating a medically useful venom the next step is to use the original snake's DNA to genetically engineer bacteria or yeast that produce the same protien. There are papers out there on centipede venom so there is probably a market for centipede venom as well.
 
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DubiaW

Arachnobaron
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Messages
471
btw/imo, I would hesistate to leave two galapagoensis together just yet, as cool an experience Insektzuchen has shown on vid. When I see stuff like that, I think it's a good idea to wait for at least a few more experiences by other people, experiences that are consistent showing this behavior. I want to give it a try but, as dumb as this sounds, I don't want any more plings right now. But I could just sell those so I may see how it goes. Anyway, back to the OP, I would only try it if I had more of them, see how it went then. The odds are that it's not a good idea. However there are centipede farms where there are 1000's running all over each other in parts of Asia, the exact species ...I'm not sure, esp. after some name changes. Have you seen those vids?, they used to be hard to find, maybe it's easier to find now, I haven't looked. It may be the case that more pede species can get along more than we think but that we don't create the environment for it so they stress and kill/eat each other. So just from that aspect, it might not be a good idea. Room and hiding places are key, I do know that. But, if more got along, I think we wouldn't find so many alone in the wild. btw Trev, I like the black form of gigantea myself, but would prob freak over the red colored ones too, just never have seen one before.
Here is a guy talking about centipede farms in Asia in an old post.
 

Anoplogaster

Arachnodemon
Joined
Jan 15, 2017
Messages
675
In know a guy that received a brown box shipment of T's from Brazil that ended up doing three years in prison. He was caught because they monitored his internet messages when he arranged for it. The United States charged him with a crime and the sender in Brazil didn't have any repercussions. So, I would say this is a very bad idea.

I also know a guy that had a friend in Europe that sent him some Forest cobras as a "surprise present" (his story not mine). Game and fish showed up at his house and looked through all of his stuff for for other venomous snakes and evidence that he had prior knowledge of the shipment. They seized the cobras and didn't charge him with anything because he didn't have anything illegal at his house. That was over twenty years ago though.

A centipede farm in China is very possible, although I would imagine there would be more S. s. mutilans in the pet trade if that were the case (providing they are not more valuable sold as folk medicine). There is a viper farm in China that breeds for culinary and commercial products, ranging from skins and meat to gall bladders (for folk medicine) and "pooled" venom for the production of antivenin. The PhD that I worked under went over there to help them bring their venom operation up to today's standards. Currently venom is more profitable if you sell it in single specimen samples for the purpose of isolating unique snake venom proteins that have medical uses. After isolating a medically useful venom the next step is to use the original snake's DNA to genetically engineer bacteria or yeast that produce the same protien. There are papers out there on centipede venom so there is probably a market for centipede venom as well.
Three years in prison for receiving Ts from Brazil? So, because someone wanted illegal Ts, our tax dollars had to go into three square meals a day for three years for this guy?
 

RTTB

Arachnoprince
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Better idea is to post a S mutilans wanted in the classifieds here. You would probably have one in a week or 2 all legal no hassle.
 

DubiaW

Arachnobaron
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Here's the kicker. They were all species that already existed in the trade. His friend and him were trading their own legally purchased and or captive bred T's. They weren't even wild caught. In most states it costs about $50 to $70 dollars a day to house an inmate (not including medical expenses). AZ is approximately $57, where he and I live. For three years that is $62,415 alone not including medical. Typically a home and auto loan go down the drain when someone is imprisoned and their immediate family goes on welfare (home loans are often backed by the fed). So yeah, that is a lot of tax payer money for nothing. But hey, think of all the black and grey tattoos you can get for a case of ramen and five sticky buns.

This guy owns a pet store now. He doesn't ship anything through the mail now unless he is absolutely sure.
 

DubiaW

Arachnobaron
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Importation permits aren't worth it unless you are dealing in big numbers or a really valuable species. I just saw postings for S. heros in Europe for 900 euros. At the current exchange rate that is $1015.43. Are they the most sought after centipede in Europe? Do people really pay that or is someone just high balling? I am going hiking tonight looking for them. I'm planning to get stock built up for a captive breeding project since they are so difficult to find in their natural habitat. Has anyone out there gone through the process of becoming an American exporter?
 

Venom1080

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I'd imagine they just catch them. I can't think of them having the know how to breed so many pedes.

Yeah, that's probably highly illegal.
 

DubiaW

Arachnobaron
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I'd imagine they just catch them. I can't think of them having the know how to breed so many pedes.

Yeah, that's probably highly illegal.
Actually there are a couple of old posts about S. mutilans being farmed in China. They probably aren't breeding them for their beauty. They are used in folk medicine in China and Korea for skin rashes and back pain. They had a link to a youtube video of a farm but it doesn't work anymore.

http://arachnoboards.com/threads/great-mutilans.156064/#post-1425194
 

DubiaW

Arachnobaron
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Here is a quote from a discussion on about receiving "defanged"(sic) S. mutilans from Chinese pede farms with their maxillipedes cut off. That's sacrilegious!!! A guy in Taiwan was saying that S. dehaani are being farm raised too, and being fed a pureed fruit mix. That seemed really far fetched but when I came across this on reptiforums it made sense. Honestly this is pretty repulsive to me. They "Nerf" cannibalistic centipedes to factory farm them for "folk remedies" (magic) and fish food....... Uhg! And the little amoral voice of pragmatism in my head says, "Oh, that would be useful for breeding aggressive centipedes that can't be easily captive bred. Just cut it at the trochanter, breed them, and it will regenerate during the next molt." Or get a really big enclosure and be the good guy. Centipede factory farms for the pet trade: That is an ethical dilemma. On one hand, it would relieve the environmental impact of collection for popular and or valuable species by lowering the market price. On the other hand, it is cruel and unnecessary and it takes the love out of the hobby. Any thoughts on this?

Most Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans are coming from farms located in East Asia, mainly China and Korea. They are mostly bred to produce traditional medications and to feed Arowana fishes everywhere in South East Asia. As they're available in most pet/fish shops, they're defanged to avoid any snappy surprise... The fangs will generally regenerate after a few molts. But as you said, without forcipules, no hunting and probably not many chance to feed! In captivity, it is easy to give prekilled preys and wait for the forcipule to regrow...
http://www.reptileforums.co.uk/forums/spiders-inverts/242603-new-centipede.html
 

RTTB

Arachnoprince
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Unfortunately a lot of mammals reptiles invertebrates are used worldwide for mythical remedies and medicine. Many are endangered species such as elephants rhinos pangolins and many others. But these are cultural beliefs and entrenched so it won't be stopping anytime soon.
 

Crowbawt

Arachnopeon
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Here's a video from Indonesia of centipedes being wild-caught in large numbers and de-fanged:


As for the ethics of it, I personally hesitate to apply my own values to the treatment of invertebrates in a culture I don't belong to, so no comment.
 

Salvador

Arachnosquire
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141
As for the ethics of it, I personally hesitate to apply my own values to the treatment of invertebrates in a culture I don't belong to, so no comment.
That. As sad as it looks seeing the animals mass-caught, mutilated, and stressed, I'm not there or part of it. They might see the giant centipedes I'm amazed by as nothing more than painful annoyances, like I might with common wasps, but with some value.
 

DubiaW

Arachnobaron
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I didn't intend to culture shame. I only expressed my initial emotions about factory farming practices to contrast it to the pragmatic reality. Neither factory farming "Nerf" centipedes or mass wild catching them are ethical by western standards yet we continue to buy their products. That does make us a part of it. Although captive breeding is far better it doesn't keep up with demand and therefore doesn't solve the collection problem. Factory farming does however relieve collection pressure.

Is it more ethical to continue humane captive breeding when it doesn't meet demand? Is defanging cannibalistic centipedes for breeding projects ethical as a breeding practice to protect both the environment and the trade? Ultimately the practice of wild catching and or shipping inverts is going to be made illegal if it threatens natural populations. If the hobby breeders can't keep up with demand eventually the list of species available to enthusiasts will dwindle and become outrageously priced and create the opening for a lucrative black market. I would much prefer a breeders association that encourages others to breed and prioritizes selling a portion of their plings to breeding projects. I would also like to see more educator/entertainers that visit local schools to do invert presentations.

I'm in the beginning process of a breeding project for three species. This could be a job for myself one day. Maybe building a Scolopendra heros breeding project that is big enough to start a sustainable CB business that can legally ship overseas. There are some hurdles to cross. Defanging is just one of the many ethical issues that have come to my attention.
 
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Salvador

Arachnosquire
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Don't worry, I don't think anyone here has taken your posts as anything other than interest in other cultures methods and attitudes towards centipede collection and "farming", rather than criticism. I think, that the approach used there isn't of too much value to us as a hobbyist, but I could be off the mark with why I think that. First of all, it would be nice to know just how successful these farms are in mass-breeding them like this. I have a suspicion they're clipped more to make it easy to grab and throw as needed for transporting etc, and that the breeding side isn't quite as paramount. Second, I think we'd go down a dangerous road clipping centipedes in the hobby to stop them from killing each other....if they're going to do that in the first place, it indicates a problem. I might be wrong, but I think many animals would not attempt to breed/hold a clutch as they're too stressed being brought into those conditions. Third,do they really need mass farmed; the hobby has a grown a bit, but perhaps not so much that thousands of S.subspinipes "mutilans" are needed. The idea of proper breeding projects is a good one though, and needs more of a "centipede society" where enthusiasts can pool knowledge, rather than bicker on forums.

Looking at your previous posts and on one of your lasts points, price and demand. I'm shocked to see that someone was asking so much for a heros. They are available in europe, right now, for much cheaper, less than a third of the price. They are in demand for sure, as are others such as the South American giants, malaysian jewel, hardwickei...all pricey, and some say overpriced, since they seem to have climbed in value. I think some different business practices abroad due to demand, as well as some greedy dealers have contributed towards that.
 

Crowbawt

Arachnopeon
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I didn't take your comments as culture shaming either, I was just stating my own mental approach to matters like this. It certainly pains me on a personal level to see centipedes clipped and tossed in a bucket, but I don't have any qualms feeding my pet pedes crickets that I've raised just to kill... It's all about perspective, imo. Not to get too philosophical and off-topic here.

Anyway, I agree that having more captive breeders in the centipede hobby is sorely needed. I listen to my tarantula keeping friend talking about the shear amount of available CB slings in the USA, and it boggles my mind.

I've certainly daydreamed about starting a side business collecting all the pretty little polymorpha variants available and breeding them to make CB pedelings available to US hobbyists for cheap... But in my case, it simply isn't feasible. I don't have the time, money, experience, and most importantly, the space.
 

LawnShrimp

Arachnoangel
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Dec 9, 2016
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This was totally a hypothetical situation. I would never try to bring back something like that illegally. Besides, mutilans isn't my favorite species and wouldn't be worth the risks. This was more of me spouting my silly ideas about a ridiculous plan.

Thanks for the input about centipede farms.

As for medicinal purposes, I read a Chinese article recently about a woman who sick from eating 10 centipedes (S.s.mutilans by the looks of them) to cure some imagined disease. I've also seen a stock photo labeled "Medicinal Isopods" that was actually a huge hand full of dead, dried giant pill millipedes. This stuff is just as mythical and superficial as rhino horn or bear bile. It is a shame that even magnificent creatures like Scolopendra are only farmed because of age-old superstitions.
However, there have been both American and Chinese scientific papers on how mutilans venom could be used as a painkiller or cancer treatment. Hopefully centipedes can be used for real and useful things.

Meanwhile, invert lovers like us can do good work with captive breeding animals and being responsible with them. Good luck to everyone here who is or wishes to do more work with centipedes.
 
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