A. gigas Antics

AuroraLights

Arachnosquire
Joined
Oct 30, 2019
Messages
80
Hey there, I thought I'd share with you guys the crazy things my AGB has been getting up to in the last fortnight. Honestly, she's managed to make me panic so many times recently, I never would have thought such a simple creature could cause so much trouble!
First things first, if you've ever read that Archispirostreptus gigas are escape artists, I can confirm that this is absolutely true. Underestimate it at your peril! I'd heard about this before I got her but naïvely I thought 'They can't climb glass and they don't see super well, how good can they really be at escaping?' Turns out, pretty good.
This all started when I moved them into a new tank that was an old aquarium. I'd ordered it online and when it arrived I noticed there was a big gap at the back of the lid. Luckily though, I'd chosen a pretty tall tank so that I would be able to give both deep substrate and climbing space, and I hadn't yet gotten ahold of anything for them to climb on. So I decided I'd just put the substrate in slightly shallower at the back until I could come up with something to properly cover up the gap. When it was done I was pretty sure that even is she stretched up the glass as high as she could she wouldn't be able to get out. As it turns out, I was actually right about that: she couldn't stretch up to the gap, but what she could do was climb part way up the wire of the thermostat probe, then onto the hydrometer probe that was suckered to the wall, and from there she could reach the gap.
So that's how, on the night of the second of December, she ended up escaping for the first time. My mum heard the dogs barking at something and then a quiet thump. Turns out, my AGB had just fallen off the side table her tank is on (Oh no!) and was now surrounded by two dogs (Oh noo!!). Fortunately, she'd fallen onto a soft cardboard box not all the way to the floor, and my Mum was there to rescue her from the dogs before they decided she looked like a chew toy. So as you can imagine I was pretty freaked when I heard what had happened, knowing there were at least two ways she could have easily died. Luckily though, she was totally fine, so we covered the gap with cling film and electrical tape and I didn't worry too much more about it.
Fast forward to the seventh, when we hadn't seen her for a couple of days. In most cases that's normal for millipedes, but this one never usually burrows and since Spirostreptids don't moult once they're adults so I thought it was odd. Mum suggested she might be laying eggs. I know that A. gigas don't usually do that in captivity but I knew that she'd been kept with a male until recently and I thought that if she had been looking for a place to lay it might explain her earlier escape attempt. So I was quietly hopeful. I even considered putting off the cage renovations I'd been planning (nothing massive, just some things to climb and a couple of plants) so that I didn't disturb her or any possible eggs. As it happens I needn't have worried, because she turned up the next day- in the middle of the kitchen floor!! She was covered in dust and cat hair, and clearly dehydrated. When I put her back in the tank she spent a good 45 minutes drinking from the water dish.
A while longer and I'm sure we could have found a dried up dead millipede under the fridge. Not to mention the likelihood of her being found by the dogs again! :anxious:
Anyway, here she is all cleaned up afterwards:
I'm very lucky that she wasn't hurt at all, but sadly it seems none of her commensal mites survived the dehydration. RIP her little friends, I feel so bad that I let you all die and nearly lost my millipede as well. Not a proud owner moment for me. :(
Honestly though, I'm still not completely sure how she got out that second time: the only uncovered holes were the wire inlets and I don't think she would have been able to fit through them. Maybe she could fit her head in but I really don't think so, and she's kind of tapered so she definitely shouldn't have been able to get her back end through. It's not like they can squeeze through places is it? They have calcified exoskeletons! Personally I think some of the tape covering the gap must have come unstuck when I opened the lid, but it didn't look like there were any gaps when I checked so I really don't know. We covered all the wire inlets and put even more tape along the back and she's stayed inside for a week now so fingers crossed. Dad's looking into making a more permanent cover out of perspex or something so the tape should last until then. Anyway, the long and short of it is that I've officially changed her name to Houdina and I'm more than a little bit embarrassed that I've been outwitted twice by a creature that doesn't even have a well developed brain!
And to top it all off, a couple of days ago she gave me yet another fright when I found her sleeping on the top of the substrate in the middle of the day! The lights had been on for hours and she was in a very funny position. The last time I found a millipede sleeping in a funny position it turned out he had died (I think it was pesticide poisoning) so you can understand that I was concerned. I've been very careful since not to give my remaining millipedes anything non-organic, but who knows what she could have found on our kitchen floor? I couldn't stop worrying about it so in the end I very lightly touched her on her head, and I was so relieved to see her react immediately and normally. She reared back her head and curled up her front end a little but then settled down and went right back to sleep, without moving from her position. I guess she just wanted to sleep that way? Once I realised she wasn't dying I found it so funny that I took several pictures, you can see what I mean about a strange position!
She stayed like that for several hours before waking up and acting like nothing had happened, and I was prepared to just put it down to odd behaviour. But then the next day I found her sleeping on the surface again, in a different place. At least she was curled up properly this time, but I was a bit worried that it had happened twice in a row. That sort of thing isn't natural behaviour after all. I thought about why she might have stopped using her cork hides, and then I realised that both times I'd seen her sleeping on the surface she'd been very close to the heatmat. When I put the cork hides in I'd made sure to put them a distance away because I was worried about my millipedes overheating in their sleep, but I'd rather have a hide near the heatmat than have her sleeping right against the glass in the light. So, to test my theory I put in a coconut hide next to where I'd first found her sleeping. She went inside it almost immediately and has been sleeping there every time I've checked on them ever since. Phew, thank goodness that problem didn't turn out to be serious. Have any of your millipedes ever done something like sleeping on the surface? Do you think I was right about it being caused by temperature? I've turned their temperature up by half a degree as well, but whatever was causing it it seems like their new coconut is a hit. In fact, yesterday my Spirostreptidae species "8", who's never shown an interest in any of the other hides, actually climbed in right on top of Houdina! I'm amazed they could both fit actually. :D
So with all that I'm a bit pleased that she's spent the last few days sleeping. As much as I love having an active and visible millipede, I think we both need a bit of a break! :dead:
On a side note, can anyone confirm she is actually an A. gigas? I'm assuming she is because she was sold as one and I've never heard of MPA having commensal mites, but I don't actually know how to tell the difference...
 

Arthroverts

Arachnoprince
Active Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Messages
1,498
Wow, that is quite a story! I'm glad it turned out all right in the end.

It does appear to be an A. gigas, though it does have more brown than from what I've seen (that could just be the lighting however). MPAs usually are a satiny black color.

Thanks,

Arthroverts
 

AuroraLights

Arachnosquire
Joined
Oct 30, 2019
Messages
80
Thanks, that's good to know. I like to know what species I have, even though I'm not planning on breeding her in the near future: I don't think I'd want a dozen or more tiny escape artists to deal with! :eek:
She does have quite a lot more colour than I expected as well. The ones I'd seen before were pretty much all black, but she has loads of mahogany and even some orange in her. Not that I'm complaining, she's very handsome! :D
Today I went into town and bought an aluminium sheet to cover the gap, no chance she'll get through that. ;)
 
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