A few millipede questions

Ratmosphere

Arachnoking
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Aug 23, 2015
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I have some general questions about keeping millipedes. Does the waste of millipedes smell bad? Could it cause irritation to humans? Is it possible to develop an allergy to millipedes? I know it's possible when keeping some species of roaches. When using a heating pad, how do you know when to turn it off? Do you leave it on 24/7?
 

Aquarimax

Arachnoprince
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The waste of millipedes smells like forest soil...that's essentially what it is. I've never noticed it causing irritation, but I suppose that doesn't mean it couldn't cause irritation to some people--the same for allergies. I don't use a heating pad, even for my tropical species of Millipede, and they seem to do fine, although some of them retreat underground for longer periods when it gets cooler. I guess I provide heating for my bumblebees/scarlets, but not with a heat pad. I just keep the enclosure fairly near my cricket heat lamp,and it warms one side of the enclosure by a few degrees.
 

kjgalaxy

Arachnosquire
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Jul 7, 2016
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The flat reptile heaters that I'm using I'm leaving on 24/7. The smaller ones at max power are 7 or 8 watts so that's about 0.05 amps. My larger one is 24 W so it's about 0.2 amps. They aren't putting out a ton of heat. I check the temp gauges I have a couple times a day, but the hottest the cages have gotten is about 79 degrees, with my house at about 70 or 71 degrees.
 

Ratmosphere

Arachnoking
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Also, are millipedes capable of eating white rotting wood or does it have to be brown and soft with significant decay?
 

Ratmosphere

Arachnoking
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Does the whole floor space have to be covered with millipede substrate? How many inches deep should it be? What kind of lid should I use for a 10 gallon tank?
 

ErinM31

Arachnogoddess
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I have some general questions about keeping millipedes. Does the waste of millipedes smell bad? Could it cause irritation to humans? Is it possible to develop an allergy to millipedes? I know it's possible when keeping some species of roaches. When using a heating pad, how do you know when to turn it off? Do you leave it on 24/7?
As has been stated, their waste does not smell bad. I would say that their frass is some of the least offensive -- just further broken down plant material. The texture is not offensive either -- whereas I wouldn't ever intentionally touch vertebrate waste -- eww! :yuck:

I have not heard of anyone developing an allergy to millipedes but in seems possible to develop an allergy to anything. I would not recommend holding millipedes too often in any case -- many find it stressful and many species will release defensive fluids upon even gentle handling. (I have not found these fluids to be irritating, but they do discolor the skin for a few days. Polydesmidan (flat millipede) defensive secretions are more volatile and I try to breathe as little of it as possible when I have to move them. I may have gotten a headache from transferring a large number of Auturus evides to a new enclosure or it may have been unrelated.

I have not used a heating pad with my millipedes as those I keep are temperate and fine with night temperatures in the upper 60's. If you do use a heating pad, make sure it is an appropriate wattage for both the size and material of your enclosure (lower wattage may be safe for plastic but I feel more comfortable only using them on glass). Also, be sure to put it on the side of the tank and not under -- millipedes and indeed most animals will burrow to escape temperatures that are too hot. As for how long it should be on, that depends on what temperature range you need to maintain. Whatever you do, I think it is best to maintain a circadian rhythm of warmer temperature during the day and cooler at night. So for some of my roaches that reproduce more successfully at 80F+, I have the heating pad on only during the day except on really chilly nights, when I leave it on to limit how low the temperature of their enclosure drops.

Also, are millipedes capable of eating white rotting wood or does it have to be brown and soft with significant decay?
The significant decay is key. Is it soft enough to easily scrape off with a nail? I have had wood this soft that was pale, gray, reddish, and dark brown -- probably depends both on the type of wood and what flora and fauna have been degrading it. I believe only black wood is no good as it is either burnt or completely rotten. Oh, and wood from hardwood/deciduous plants is best, although if well-decayed, the volatile oils of pines and other conifers have probably been broken down.

Does the whole floor space have to be covered with millipede substrate? How many inches deep should it be? What kind of lid should I use for a 10 gallon tank?
I would say yes -- or what else would it be covered in? How deep the substrate should be depends on both the enclosure and type of millipede that you are keeping. For a 10 gallon tank, I think 3-5 inches of substrate would be good. You might have the bottom inch composed largely of coconut fiber to help you monitor the moisture level. The type of lid you need depends on the millipedes. Desert species such as Orthoporus ornatus need high ventilation. Most millipedes will do better with very low ventilation and this also makes your job easier as once you get the substrate just moist, it should be very slow to dry out if your ventilation is low (although heaters also speed up drying of substrate).

I hope that helps! :) Let us know if there are specific species of millipedes that you are considering as then we can focus advice on their specific needs.
 

Ratmosphere

Arachnoking
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Erin, here is what I meant. Should the substrate be 100% rotten wood/crushed leaves? Or should the bottom of the substrate be organic potting soil with the edible substrate on the top?
 

ErinM31

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Erin, here is what I meant. Should the substrate be 100% rotten wood/crushed leaves? Or should the bottom of the substrate be organic potting soil with the edible substrate on the top?
For most millipedes, I would recommend half decayed hardwood/crushed leaves and half coconut fiber/organic fertilizer-free potting soil -- all components mixed together, not layered. For flat and feathered millipedes, it will be different, depending on species.
 

Ratmosphere

Arachnoking
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Sweet! So they can eat white rotting wood? I have a whole bunch of it. You can easily break it up into powder with your fingers. What about if you attract mold when the wood is in the enclosure mixed with the base soil? Could you still use it?
 

shutout2000

Arachnoknight
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Nov 12, 2016
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As has been stated, their waste does not smell bad. I would say that their frass is some of the least offensive -- just further broken down plant material. The texture is not offensive either -- whereas I wouldn't ever intentionally touch vertebrate waste -- eww! :yuck:

I have not heard of anyone developing an allergy to millipedes but in seems possible to develop an allergy to anything. I would not recommend holding millipedes too often in any case -- many find it stressful and many species will release defensive fluids upon even gentle handling. (I have not found these fluids to be irritating, but they do discolor the skin for a few days. Polydesmidan (flat millipede) defensive secretions are more volatile and I try to breathe as little of it as possible when I have to move them. I may have gotten a headache from transferring a large number of Auturus evides to a new enclosure or it may have been unrelated.

I have not used a heating pad with my millipedes as those I keep are temperate and fine with night temperatures in the upper 60's. If you do use a heating pad, make sure it is an appropriate wattage for both the size and material of your enclosure (lower wattage may be safe for plastic but I feel more comfortable only using them on glass). Also, be sure to put it on the side of the tank and not under -- millipedes and indeed most animals will burrow to escape temperatures that are too hot. As for how long it should be on, that depends on what temperature range you need to maintain. Whatever you do, I think it is best to maintain a circadian rhythm of warmer temperature during the day and cooler at night. So for some of my roaches that reproduce more successfully at 80F+, I have the heating pad on only during the day except on really chilly nights, when I leave it on to limit how low the temperature of their enclosure drops.



The significant decay is key. Is it soft enough to easily scrape off with a nail? I have had wood this soft that was pale, gray, reddish, and dark brown -- probably depends both on the type of wood and what flora and fauna have been degrading it. I believe only black wood is no good as it is either burnt or completely rotten. Oh, and wood from hardwood/deciduous plants is best, although if well-decayed, the volatile oils of pines and other conifers have probably been broken down.



I would say yes -- or what else would it be covered in? How deep the substrate should be depends on both the enclosure and type of millipede that you are keeping. For a 10 gallon tank, I think 3-5 inches of substrate would be good. You might have the bottom inch composed largely of coconut fiber to help you monitor the moisture level. The type of lid you need depends on the millipedes. Desert species such as Orthoporus ornatus need high ventilation. Most millipedes will do better with very low ventilation and this also makes your job easier as once you get the substrate just moist, it should be very slow to dry out if your ventilation is low (although heaters also speed up drying of substrate).

I hope that helps! :) Let us know if there are specific species of millipedes that you are considering as then we can focus advice on their specific needs.
@ErinM31, I couldn't have said it better myself. ;)
 

ErinM31

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Feb 25, 2016
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Sweet! So they can eat white rotting wood? I have a whole bunch of it. You can easily break it up into powder with your fingers. What about if you attract mold when the wood is in the enclosure mixed with the base soil? Could you still use it?
I don't see why not -- my millipedes have eaten ivory, red and dark brown colored wood. I think offering a variety is healthiest but I don't see why this soft white decayed wood couldn't serve as your staple. :) It very well might attract mold but this is actually not a bad thing as it makes the wood even more edible for the millipedes. Springtails can help keep the mold in check. I usually put a small layer of coconut fiber or similar inert material over such mold when I see it but that probably does nothing except to make me feel better psychologically, lol! :wacky:
 

ErinM31

Arachnogoddess
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Feb 25, 2016
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The specific millipede I'm focusing on is the Archispirostreptus gigas.
I don't have experience with that species (I mostly have species native to the U.S.), but there are many on this forum who do. :) I would recommend having a look over the threads to see what people have tried, what has worked and any problems that have been run into.
 
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