How To Care For A Millipede? 4 Types of Millipedes That Make Great Pets

Are you planning to keep a millipede as a pet? Here is how to care for a millipede, including how to house, feed, breed, and take care of its health.

For nature lovers, millipedes make great low-maintenance pets. This is more so if you are looking for simple pets that don’t need too much involvement, cleaning, bathing, feeding, or exercising like dogs or cats, millipedes are a great choice.

Taking care of a millipede is easy since they mostly feed on dead and decaying plant matter.

If you are planning to get a millipede as a pet, this article will be worth your time. I guess you’re probably excited about your potential new pet, so why not dive right into it?

How To Care For A Millipede

Types of Millipedes for Pets

As you might be aware, it’s important to choose the right species when keeping any creature as a pet.

While there are over 12,000 species of millipedes, not all of them are equally suitable for keeping as pets.

Some species are also capable of secreting toxins that can cause irritation and make the skin burn or itch. Some of the best millipede species to keep as pets are as follows.

Bumblebee Millipedes

These brightly-colored millipedes look very beautiful, which makes them one of the most popular choices among those seeking to keep millipedes as pets.

Unlike others, their bodies have alternative stripes of bright green and black. Bumblebee millipedes are strong and hardy, which makes them easy to keep.

How To Care For A Millipede

Scarlet Millipedes

If you’re planning to keep millipedes in a vivarium, scarlet millipedes are a good choice. Their rusty red color contrasts very well against green environments.

Although originally native to Malaysia and Indonesia, they have now become very common in the US, especially in Florida.

Smokey Oak Millipedes

This species of millipedes is native to the southeastern part of the US. It can grow up to a length of four inches and mostly feeds on decaying matter.

Also known as the smokey ghost millipede, it’s of a dull grayish brown color with a touch of red at both ends.

Giant Millipedes

If you’re fascinated by large creepy crawlies, you may go for the giant millipede. However, you should keep in mind that these millipedes can grow up to 13 inches long with a diameter similar to a golf ball!

One of their subspecies, the giant African millipede, happens to be the world’s largest millipede (about 15 inches long).

You should consider getting giant millipedes only if you have enough space for a vivarium big enough to house them.

Giant millipedes are quite docile and tolerant of being handled. However, they might curl into a tight spiral and excrete a hydrogen cyanide-based chemical when frightened.

It’s always a good idea to wash your hands after handling a giant millipede.

How To Care For A Millipede

Housing

One of the best things about keeping millipedes as pets is that they don’t require very complicated or expensive housing.

Aquariums or other similar containers suffice for this purpose. Remember to choose a container size based on the number of millipedes you’re planning to keep inside it.

Generally speaking, the container should be at least thrice as long as all their lengths are combined.

What species you are choosing also matters when selecting the housing container since the sizes vary from one species to another.

If you’re planning to keep giant millipedes, you need a 10-to-15-gallon aquarium for just two of them.

Your millipede container should also be wide enough to provide them with adequate wiggle room.

While you need to make sure there aren’t any openings large enough for the millipedes to escape, always remember to leave tiny holes for ventilation.

Place the tank somewhere safe from loud noises and bright lights.

When decorating the interior, add objects that millipedes can use as hiding spots when scared, such as a plastic dome, small rocks, or a broken vase.

When housing millipedes of multiple species, make sure not to keep two different species in the same container, as they might fight for resources and dominance.

Substrate

Don’t forget to add a substrate to the container – it’s crucial for the survival of your millipedes.

The substrate provides them with food and moisture while acting as a surface they can dig into when needed.

You can always buy suitable substrates at pet shops that offer insect-oriented supplies. You can also make your own substrate by mixing soil, leaf litter, and wood.

A wet mix of bark and fresh moss can also work. Ideally, each substrate layer must be at least 5 inches thick.

You need to replenish the calcium content in the substrate using calcium supplements.

How To Care For A Millipede

Temperature and Humidity

When keeping millipedes as pets, it’s important to maintain the right temperature gradient and humidity level inside the container.

Remember, millipedes cannot survive in the absence of adequate moisture.

A temperature between 72°F and 78°F is ideal for most millipedes, though you can raise it as high as 85 degrees.

You can use a heating mat to fix the right temperature. The humidity levels should be between 60% and 70%, and the substrate has to be moist at all times.

You’ll have to mist the container with water to boost moisture levels at regular intervals.

Food and Water

Keeping your millipedes fed isn’t too hard since the substrate itself is a food source for them.

The decaying plant matter in the substrate should sate most of their hunger.

However, you should throw in bits of fruits and vegetables for variety. Apples, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, bananas, melons, and carrots are particularly good choices.

Remember to slide the fruits and veggies very thin, as millipedes have weak mouthparts.

They won’t always eat all the food, and there might be leftovers. Remove all the uneaten food every morning to prevent it from rotting.

Providing water for your millipedes isn’t much hassle, as they can drink directly from standing water.

Apart from misting regularly, also put a shallow water bowl in the container.

Put a small stone they can use to climb in and out so that they don’t fall into the water.

Make sure the water you provide isn’t chlorinated. Invertebrates are particularly sensitive to chlorine, and this applies to millipedes too.

How To Care For A Millipede

Taking Care & Common Health Problems

One of the challenges of keeping invertebrates like millipedes as pets are that we don’t know much about their health problems yet.

Even highly experienced veterinarians specializing in exotic animals cannot provide thorough care for millipedes.

Hence, you should focus on taking proper care of them to avoid health problems altogether.

Feeding a millipede properly and providing it with a suitable environment is usually enough to keep it happy and healthy.

A healthy millipede would eat regularly and always look round and full.

If you notice a lack of appetite in one of your millipedes or if its shell looks too dry, it’s probably unwell.

Other signs of health problems include lethargic behavior and the growth of fungus on their shell.

Dehydration can cause millipedes to grow shriveled and become lethargic, while fungi are visible as fuzzy white patches.

You may contact a veterinarian in these cases, but bear in mind that fungal infections might be lethal and usually occur when a millipede is already in poor health.

Millipedes share a symbiotic relationship with mites living on their shells. These mites help to keep them clean. However, some mites are parasitic, and therefore you might need to remove them.

Breeding

Millipedes reproduce in large numbers and multiply rather fast. However, it’s quite hard to identify their sex, which makes it difficult to pair them up for breeding.

You can check the seventh segment of their bodies for legs – males have a specialized pair of legs in this segment that they usually conceal in a pouch.

If you find the identification too hard, just get several millipedes and put them together. Some of them will most likely breed with the others.

Female millipedes build underground chambers to lay their eggs.

How To Care For A Millipede

Safety Precautions

Since millipedes are usually docile and harmless, they’re quite safe to keep. However, avoid startling or scaring them as it might cause them to secrete toxins.

Some species of millipedes can also spit out a dye that would take some time to fade from your skin.

Always wash your hands after handling millipedes to avoid ingesting their toxins unknowingly or touching your eyes with them.

If you allow children to handle millipedes, don’t leave them unsupervised while they’re at it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I keep a millipede as a pet?

Yes, millipedes make great pets for those who love creepy crawlies. If you’re afraid of millipedes and other critters, getting one can help you get over your fears.
If you have children at home, keeping a millipede as a pet will help grow their love for nature and animals in general.
However, make sure you get the right species. Some millipedes can throw toxic venom at you, and while you can still keep them as pets, you need to be careful around them.

Do millipedes need a water dish?

Millipedes consume most of the necessary moisture from their food and their environment through their skin.
However, sometimes the moisture amount isn’t adequate, and they need to drink water separately. This is why you should put a small, shallow dish of water in the container.

What is the lifespan of a millipede?

These arthropods have quite a long lifespan – an average millipede can live up to 11 years if you take good care of them.
You can help them live a long life by keeping them healthy and well-fed. Moreover, make sure that their tank is always at the right temperature and humidity levels.

What do millipedes eat indoors?

Millipedes mostly survive on decaying plant matter, which you can replicate indoors using substrate in the container.
Besides that, you should also provide them with small slices of fruit and veggies. Make sure your millipedes are getting a balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients.

Wrap Up

As long as you care for them properly, you can easily get them to live a healthy life and breed more baby millipedes.

As you can see, caring for a millipede is very simple. I hope reading this article has shown you the ropes of keeping a millipede as a pet and taking care of it.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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12 thoughts on “How To Care For A Millipede? 4 Types of Millipedes That Make Great Pets”

  1. I just found one of these millipedes in my bathroom. I put it in a baggie with air to get a better look at it, but only for 2-3 minutes. I put it in the yard after I found this site. I had never seen a pink millipede before.

    Reply
  2. So what is the name of this bug? Common name and species name? Where did this bug originate from? How long has it been around?
    I hate bugs, but must know. I have found many in our home over the course of a month or so. They didn’t start invading our home until summer time hit here in Austin,Texas. Just last night I found one after the other inside our apartment. On the ceilings, floors, walls, even in my bathtub! They are everywhere outside as well. There is a small opening under my front door, I am assuming they’re getting in through there. So every night I tape the bottom of my door to block them from coming in while we sleep. I plug my ears with cotton at night while I sleep. I really hate bugs, but find them somewhat interesting, just very creepy and scary. They started popping up around May 2010 here, its June now. They weren’t around last year. Why this year? What’s so different about this year than last? These are just a few of the many questions I have swimming around in my head. Please respond if possible through whatever means. Also, what are some ways to get rid of them? Insecticides, pesticides, others? Other than taping up my door every night and every day. They are getting to be too much to handle just about. Please help!

    Reply
  3. I was raking leaves and found a piece of wood with about a dozen of these orange millipedes on them. At first I thought it was fungi until I got a better look. Thanks to this website I was able to identify them.

    Reply
  4. These pink millipedes seem to be pretty common in the northern California Sierra mountains where I live. I always find them in the wood pile near the bottom. I’m curious what their niche is and if they have any natural predators

    Reply
    • We are sorry, but we don’t know the answer to your question. We presume that they feed on the fungus that grows on rotting wood.

      Reply
  5. This is a millipede of order Callipodida. Looks like a species of genus Eurygyrus. There are 5 genera of Callipodida in Turkey, Eurygyrus is by the most common and species’ richest.
    The specific odor might be due to the presence of para-cresol in the defensive secretions they produce. However, chemical components of callipodidans have been only marginally studied.

    Reply
  6. This one will very likely glow bright green under blacklight (UV light)! Worked with some related euryurids that I’ve found in GA and NC.

    Reply
  7. Reminds me of the giant millipede in one of CS Lewis’ Narnia books. Terrible fearsome when first glimpsed by the narrator and then found to be very busy, focused and on its way to do something. Always think of this when I spot a multi-legged critter in the forest duff.

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  8. I live in Wisconsin (about 45minutes east of the twin cities) and found that same millipede (black with red circles) in my home. I am not a fan of bugs. Is this millipede harmless to my children and cats?

    Reply

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