Millipedes (Order Diplopoda) are among the many most numerous but least studied of all invertebrates. There are sufficient millipedes to maintain generations of followers pleased – over 12,000 species have been described thus far, and we all know little about most! Many species make hardy pets that modify properly to small enclosures and will even breed. All are fairly intriguing – whereas working with arboreal South American millipedes on the Bronx Zoo, I used to be even concerned in a mysterious “millipede emergency”…please see this article for particulars.
The next data might be utilized to the commonly-kept African Big Millipede (Achispirospreptus gigas) and lots of the others that seem within the commerce occasionally. A number of millipedes native to the USA, resembling Narceus americanus, are additionally massive and brightly-colored…all are ignored by zoos and deserve extra consideration from hobbyists. Husbandry particulars will fluctuate…please remark under for data on particular person species.
Pure Historical past
Millipedes are discovered on all continents besides Antarctica, and reside in various habitats, together with deserts, grasslands, caves, rainforests and human dwellings.
Many of the species studied eat and recycle lifeless leaves and different vegetation, and plenty of defend themselves by curling right into a circle and releasing irritating secretions. Sure monkeys rub their our bodies with millipedes, apparently utilizing these secretions to discourage biting bugs and parasites (please see under).
Regardless of frequent names suggesting the presence of hundreds of legs, most species have lower than 150 pairs. The “leggiest”, a uncommon millipede from the American Southwest, sports activities 750 legs (please see photograph).
The favored Big African Millipede, Achispirospreptus gigas, might attain 11 inches in size and 10 years of age.
Millipedes are largely nocturnal within the wild however will stay energetic by day in humid terrariums.
Organising the Terrarium
Millipedes are finest stored in screen-covered aquariums or plastic terrariums. A ten gallon aquarium is satisfactory for a single massive grownup.
“Ant farm sort” sort set-ups might will let you watch your pets’ below-ground actions. A small aquarium positioned the wrong way up inside a bigger one will confine their burrowing actions to the world alongside the glass (please see this text on creating a burrowing area for particulars).
Millipede substrate must be 4-6 inches deep and comprised of fifty% leaf litter (oak, ash, and so on.) and decaying wooden. Millipedes will eat this, so that you’ll want so as to add extra in time. The stability might encompass coconut husk, peat moss and high soil. Though most will burrow, cork bark and comparable shelters also needs to be supplied.
A reptile night-viewing bulb will will let you observe your millipedes after darkish.
Millipedes are considerably resilient to desiccation, however most favor excessive humidity and can turn into inactive if stored in dry terrariums.
Humidity might be elevated by misting, moistening the substrate, and partially masking the lid with plastic.
Deficiencies in calcium and different vitamins usually forestall captive Millipedes from thriving. Leaf litter and decaying wooden will present vitamins which can be exhausting to acquire in any other case. ReptoCal or an analogous complement must be combined into the substrate (this can be consumed together with decaying leaves) and added to their meals; a reptile vitamin supplement can be utilized as soon as weekly.
Millipedes also needs to be supplied with a salad of yam, carrot, kale, cucumber, apple, banana and different fruit and veggies, into which has been combined cricket gut-loading diet, tropical fish flakes, and tortoise pellets.
Millipedes get alongside properly in teams, and can also be stored with beetles, stick bugs, land snails and sure different invertebrates.
Millipedes often stay under floor when molting, and shouldn’t be disturbed at the moment. Humidity must be stored excessive when your pets molt.
Tiny white mites are sometimes launched to terrariums through substrate or meals. Most are innocent scavengers, however massive populations might disturb molting or injured animals. They will usually be lured right into a jar baited with fish flakes. Please see this article for additional data.
Well being Concerns
Millipedes launch secretions that may irritate the eyes, pores and skin and mucus membranes. Though pet commerce species haven’t been proven to be harmful, they need to be avoided the face and dealt with with latex gloves.
All the time wash your arms with heat, soapy water after working round any animal. Please converse together with your physician regarding particulars, and be at liberty to write down me for additional data.
Harpaphe haydeniana picture referenced from wikipedia and initially posted by Franco Folini