Prey, which are typically other soft-bodied arthropods (including other centipedes) or worms are mostly taken alive. Large Scolopendridae can take mice, toads, birds, lizards, geckos, and small snakes as prey. Some geophilomorphs accept plants as food if denied animal prey for long enough.
Prey are often detected by the antennae, which are covered with dense mechanosensory and chemosensory hairs. The eyes do not seem to play a major role in prey detection. In some species, the last pair of legs is also used to detect or grab prey, and may be modified as pincers.
Prey are immobilized by venom injected from the maxil-lipede fang. The prey are held by the maxillipedes and sometimes also anterior walking legs, passed to the mouth by the first and second maxillae, and then cut up by the mandibles, which have a row of paired teeth in all centipedes, except Geophilomorpha. Geophilomorph mandibles sweep and rasp food. Salivary glands make secretions that break down the prey.
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