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New keeper, experienced entomologist. Looking for some advice

Discussion in 'Myriapods' started by AndrenidaeAdmirer, Sep 9, 2018.

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    I found a lovely N. americanus while on a collecting trip this weekend and have decided to keep it as an office pet! I have not yet sexed it, and currently have it in a Critter Keeper that is about 3 gallons. The bottom half of the substrate is organic potting mix, while the top half is ZooMed Creature Soil (soil, sand, peat, carbon). I have added some bark, branches and moss from it's original habitat as well. I am aware there may be too much airflow in my current set up, so I have been working to keep the substrate moist. I have also purchased a calcium supplement. Is there anything else I should do or should change? I may add another of the same species, I also know where I can get some Polydesmida (Xystodesmidae), but have not been able to identify the genus or species yet. Can these be kept together?
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  2. AZCeptipede

    AZCeptipede Arachnosquire

    Usually it's the hobbyists asking the entomologist for advice lol. Your setup sounds good, and as long as the care requirements are similar and there's enough space you should be able to keep different millipedes together fine.
  3. davehuth

    davehuth Arachnosquire

    Congrats! Narceus hold a special place in my heart. Where I live in NY state they were once common, but habitat disturbance has disrupted their lives to the point that I can find them only in old growth forest now (not very common around here).

    Decomposing hardwood and decaying hardwood leaves are the primary diet of my Narceus. They need a substrate about as deep as their body length to molt in, and I typically mix my own substrate from crumbled up wood and leaves with some moss mixed in to help hold moisture. If you don't have much wood and leaves in the substrate, make sure you provide plenty on the surface. I have a medium Kritter Keeper with several adult Narceus and they motor through a handful of oak leaves every few days.

    Narceus mostly come to the surface at night, so in the past I've kept them in a communal set up with Florida Ivory Millipedes (Chicobolus spinigerus). The Ivories are very surface active and gave me something to enjoy looking at during the day, and then I'd peek in after dark to see what was happening with the Narceus. I eventually separated them when they both started reproducing and I couldn't tell the babies apart! :)

    The substrate should stay evenly moist but never water logged. I also supplement their diet with dog kibble, cucumber, squash, apple, algae wafers, lichen covered sticks, and other tidbits. These animals are great fun and live for years, so keep us updated!
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  4. Galapoheros

    Galapoheros ArachnoGod Old Timer

    Many entomologists, botanists, herpetologists, etc., you might be surprised, many of them are not interested in keeping live specimens, many don't have that experience. Some are more interested in other aspects like taxonomy, range distribution, medical value, things like that. I met somebody that was a game warden here in Texas, he couldn't tell the difference between a centipede and a millipede. That doesn't fit my point well but that was really strange to me.
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  5. I have very little experience in keeping live arthropods. Plus, my focus is on wild bee ecology. I can use that ecology knowledge in keeping live critters, but myriapods have very different needs from bees.

    I will add some hardwood leaves to the enclosure, and my substrate is about half the depth of the enclosure, so I think that should be good. Does anyone have experience with Xystodesmidae or other Polydesmida? I have had a very difficult time finding information about keeping them in captivity.
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  6. arachnoxious

    arachnoxious arachnovelist Arachnosupporter

    I would keep them the same way you are keeping your N. americanus. Flat back millipedes should be fine co-existing with it.

    I currently keep multiple species from different parts of the U.S. together in the same enclosure. I just mist one half of the enclosure a bit less than the other side to give the pedes a retreat if things are getting too moist or humid. The millipedes you are keeping should be completely fine and you can probably add many different kinds of pedes in there under the right conditions.

    Since you are collecting hardwood leaves to add with them then I would make sure you sterilize them first to avoid any harmful organisms. You might want to consider doing that with the bark and branches as well. Also, If you are concerned about mold or fungus, springtails are absolutely perfect for a millipede enclosure.

    Good luck and welcome to the community :)
  7. How would you suggest sterilizing them? I was just reviewing the items that went into the enclosure carefully until now. I have considered putting items through a berlese funnel first to remove any other arthropods, but didn't know if the heat would make the leaves and such less nutritious or appealing.
  8. arachnoxious

    arachnoxious arachnovelist Arachnosupporter

    I boil my leaves in water for a short amount of time and then let them air dry.
    All of the leaves I used have been sterilized and I have no reason to believe they are less appealing to the pedes. Besides leafs I usually offer certain fruits and vegetables.

    Similarly, I boil bark/wood for about 2 hours and then let it air dry for a few days.
    Occasionally, after boiling the wood, I will bake it in the oven at about 200f and check on it periodically. There are also other methods people use but that is what’s easiest IMO.
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  9. Lithobius

    Lithobius Arachnosquire

    Actually you should be able to find some Xystodesmids in the wild since your profile says you're from Kentucky.

    Example: https://bugguide.net/node/view/782904

    When I find Polydesmids in the wild its usually by peeling back the bark of rotting logs. I've found them alongside ant colonies under rotting logs also. However I haven't had a chance to find any Xystodesmids in the wild yet, they're further west in MA than I usually get a chance to look, so I'm not sure if they're going to be easier or harder to find.

    I've gotten a few from reptile expos but they've had a significantly shorter life then my other millies...

    I also don't sterilize the food I bring back for my local millipedes, which is a mix of bark, wood, fairly freshly fallen leaves, lichen peeled off trees, and mushrooms picked from the sides of trees or the ground (usually just turkey tail types, nothing that could be toxic).
  10. I went out this weekend and found 2 different types. One is smaller, red, and black; while the other is black and yellow. They are not very difficult to find in my area, mostly in leaf litter or decaying wood.
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