Giant Millipede caresheet
A giant millipede from Africa.
Millipede literally means one thousand feet. This is however not the case, most species have in the region of 200-300 when they are adult. They are fairly easy to keep as pets and the exotic forms of millipede make appealing pets. Millipedes belong to the Class Diplopoda.
The housing in which millipedes need to be kept is simple. They require soil, some shelter, moisture and food. The size of your cage should be at least twice as long as the longest individual you are to house. Chose your cage - a small aquarium or large sweet jar is ideal, and ensure that the cage is escape proof (millipedes are able to push and lever hard so make sure that the lid is not easily removed). Humidity should be kept high, and the soil in the cage should be kept damp. With the plastic aquariums this can cause a problem as the lids on these tanks tend to be very well ventilated, which allows the soil to dry more quickly. To prevent this you can glue or tape a plastic bag inside the lid and pierce a few holes on the bag. It may also necessary to provide some heating for your millipede, especially when the weather is colder or if the house is not heated. This can be done using a heat mat under the tank. However, a warm airing cupboard is an alternative. Whichever method is used remember to check the moisture of the soil regularly.
Millipedes are easy to cater for. They feed happily on the substrate soil or peat-free compost mixed with dead leaves. This can be added to by giving all sorts of food items from the kitchen such as potato peelings. It is worth trying numerous different types of food and seeing what your millipedes like best. Other vitimins and minerals are needed for your milliede to stay healthy. These can be given by adding a few flakes of fish food or rabbit pellets each week. Calcium is very important in the diet and this should be given in the form of cuttlefish, which is usually given to aviary birds. Water should not be necessary unless you are keeping the cage fairly dry. However, you can place a damp pad of cotton wool in the cage from which the millipedes will drink, or you can mist the cage using a hand sprayer (make sure it has not contained any pesticides) daily.
The most difficult thing in breeding most species of millipede is ensuring that you have a male and female as they are extremely difficult to sex. The best thing to do is to buy as many as you can afford and house. One way to detemine the sex is to look at the seventh segment of the millipede. Males have a specialised set of legs on this segment which are tucked away in pouches. The females and immature millipedes do not have these. It is difficult to know whether your millipede is adult or not, so a specimen which you think is an adult female may turn out to be an immature male!! If you find a specimen which has a gap on the seventh segment, select a specimen that is the same size or bigger that has not got the gap, and hopefully this will be an adult female. If you keep the cage nice and damp they should breed. The females lays her eggs in a chamber which she builds under the soil and will hatch out into tiny baby millipedes.
Further information on Millipedes.
Remember: it is important that you know the needs and requirements of your pet before you obtain the animal. You should never, ever obtain an animal before researching its needs and preparing the housing and conditions.
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