Az desert millipede care

Beastie

Arachnoknight
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Jun 24, 2016
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Hello all, last night when we got home we had an adorable little millipede by our door. My 4 year old daughter is a huge bug lover and would like to keep him/her. I'm reading that they're fairly easy to keep so I'm willing to give it a try I just want to make sure I'm going about this correctly. I read the care sheet on here that says 50% rotting leaves and bark to 50% coconut fiber, I have a huge oak tree out back (we don't use pesticides) that has tons of leaf litter, I'm guessing that's probably where she came from anyway so I'm assuming I can mix that with the coconut bark? We stuck him/her in a small container last night with coconut bark and it burrowed pretty quickly. Also shouldn't I mist daily or every few days? My house stays pretty humid do to our swamp cooler. How often should I offer fruits/veggies/cat food and do I need to use calcium powder to dust the food?
 

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ErinM31

Arachnogoddess
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Hello all, last night when we got home we had an adorable little millipede by our door. My 4 year old daughter is a huge bug lover and would like to keep him/her. I'm reading that they're fairly easy to keep so I'm willing to give it a try I just want to make sure I'm going about this correctly. I read the care sheet on here that says 50% rotting leaves and bark to 50% coconut fiber, I have a huge oak tree out back (we don't use pesticides) that has tons of leaf litter, I'm guessing that's probably where she came from anyway so I'm assuming I can mix that with the coconut bark? We stuck him/her in a small container last night with coconut bark and it burrowed pretty quickly. Also shouldn't I mist daily or every few days? My house stays pretty humid do to our swamp cooler. How often should I offer fruits/veggies/cat food and do I need to use calcium powder to dust the food?
Oooh, what a beautiful millipede! Congratulations! :D It looks like a species of Atopetholidae, not one of the ones regularly kept in the hobby, so it may take some trial and error to find the right conditions and it is possible that it may be one of those very difficult to keep in captivity -- I do not know. The good thing is that you have some idea of its natural habitat and so that is what I would go by. :) The set-up you have sounds good but be careful with the humidity/moisture levels. The dessert species Orthoporus ornatus likes humidity but requires high ventilation so I mist often but the water evaporates just as quickly and while I try to keep the lower layers of substrate slightly moist, the top is mostly dry. My guess would be that your millipede might do well with a similar set-up. Definitely add the oak leaves -- I would put them on top of the substrate but you could mix some of them in while the millipede is out and about. (You don't want to accidentally injure it while it is burrowed -- a serious risk if it is in the process of molting. On that note, don't be alarmed if the millipede is out of sight for several weeks. I know it is tempting to look for them, but either it is perfectly fine and molting and your interference risks injuring and killing it, or it is already dying and there is nothing you can do for it. I know that can be hard, but I have learned the hard way, and that is worse. :( ) I would offer a variety of small amounts of veggies and catfood once a week or every other week -- best in a shallow dish so that you can remove all that is uneaten after a day or two and avoid attracting pests. It shouldn't be necessary to use calcium powder, especially if the millipede eats the catfood, which should have a good amount of calcium in it. If it does not eat any petfood, then you might mix a SMALL amount of calcium powder into an area of the substrate. Mostly I have had good results with this, but I did have one species that was quite sensitive to the resulting change in pH.

Please keep us updated on your lovely new millipede! :) Btw, if these happen to be common in your area, I would LOVE to purchase or trade for some (I have a ton of baby Narceus americanus growing up -- a very hardy and easy to keep millipede but not found further west than a state or two beyond the Mississippi River).
 

Beastie

Arachnoknight
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I honestly haven't seen a milli in the wild since I was a kid which is why myself (and my husband) were so excited. My daughter was just in love with it but she just loves all things creepy crawly, maybe she will grow up to be an entomologist! The tub it is in is kinda small (16oz deli) so I was planning on rehoming her to something a bit larger, I would be very careful pulling it/him/her out of course but if you think the deli cup is sufficient I'll just add leaves and such to it. It's probably just under 3" in length though.
 

ErinM31

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I honestly haven't seen a milli in the wild since I was a kid which is why myself (and my husband) were so excited. My daughter was just in love with it but she just loves all things creepy crawly, maybe she will grow up to be an entomologist! The tub it is in is kinda small (16oz deli) so I was planning on rehoming her to something a bit larger, I would be very careful pulling it/him/her out of course but if you think the deli cup is sufficient I'll just add leaves and such to it. It's probably just under 3" in length though.
A shoebox-sized Sterilite container would probably be ideal. I agree that 16 oz is too small for more than temporary keeping of a millipede that size. I hope your millipede does well! Very cool find! :happy:
 

Beastie

Arachnoknight
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A shoebox-sized Sterilite container would probably be ideal. I agree that 16 oz is too small for more than temporary keeping of a millipede that size. I hope your millipede does well! Very cool find! :happy:
Thanks that's what my thoughts were. :D
 

Beastie

Arachnoknight
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Better? Does this look like enough ventilation (both sides length wide and top) or should I add some to the other (width sides) sides as well?
 

SlugPod

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Just thought I'd add; you can typically find 6qt (shoe box sized) Sterilite containers at Dollar Tree! So they're only a dollar +tax. Not a bad idea to stop buy and buy a couple from dollar tree.
And if you wanted something a little bigger, or your local dollar tree doesn't have any, Walmart has pretty cheap Sterilite containers. (most of them anyway). I just picked up 28qt tubs for 5$ the other day (not for millipedes though).

I think ErinM31 covered the care pretty well so I don't have much more to add to that.
But if you found one, I'm sure there would be more around. Maybe go out at night occasionally and just look around. Might be a fun activity to do! Early morning works well, too. :)
 

Beastie

Arachnoknight
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Just thought I'd add; you can typically find 6qt (shoe box sized) Sterilite containers at Dollar Tree! So they're only a dollar +tax. Not a bad idea to stop buy and buy a couple from dollar tree.
And if you wanted something a little bigger, or your local dollar tree doesn't have any, Walmart has pretty cheap Sterilite containers. (most of them anyway). I just picked up 28qt tubs for 5$ the other day (not for millipedes though).

I think ErinM31 covered the care pretty well so I don't have much more to add to that.
But if you found one, I'm sure there would be more around. Maybe go out at night occasionally and just look around. Might be a fun activity to do! Early morning works well, too. :)
Sounds like something we would enjoy!
 

ErinM31

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Oops forgot the pictures.
That looks like a good amount of ventilation -- I would say plenty for most millipede species! I would add about half your substrate and moisten it by misting or drizzling water, then add the rest of the substrate and moisten only a corner and leave the rest dry. If the millipede stays in that corner most of the time, then moisten just a bit more. That would be my recommendation based on the possibly inaccurate assumption that where you live is fairly arid.
 

Beastie

Arachnoknight
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It's pretty dry here except during monsoon season, the swamp cooler keeps the house fairly humid.
 

Beastie

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That looks like a good amount of ventilation -- I would say plenty for most millipede species! I would add about half your substrate and moisten it by misting or drizzling water, then add the rest of the substrate and moisten only a corner and leave the rest dry. If the millipede stays in that corner most of the time, then moisten just a bit more. That would be my recommendation based on the possibly inaccurate assumption that where you live is fairly arid.
I gathered a bunch of leaf litter and bark from the oak tree out back, (some already decaying and some crunchy but not decayed, I'm going to mix it with coconut bark.
 

ErinM31

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It's pretty dry here except during monsoon season, the swamp cooler keeps the house fairly humid.
Sounds similar to how it is here in San Antonio. :) I have yet to find any of the large round millipedes native to the state, but what I have described has worked well for my Abacion millipedes which generally prefer drier conditions but will sometimes visit the sphagnum moss that I keep moist.

I gathered a bunch of leaf litter and bark from the oak tree out back, (some already decaying and some crunchy but not decayed, I'm going to mix it with coconut bark.
Excellent! That sounds like an ideal millipede set-up to me! :D
 

Beastie

Arachnoknight
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Sounds similar to how it is here in San Antonio. :) I have yet to find any of the large round millipedes native to the state, but what I have described has worked well for my Abacion millipedes which generally prefer drier conditions but will sometimes visit the sphagnum moss that I keep moist.



Excellent! That sounds like an ideal millipede set-up to me! :D
Yay! I hope he/she thinks so too!
 

ErinM31

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Yay! I hope he/she thinks so too!
If you're able to get a photo of the underside (just need to see the first/anterior/caudal third), I should be able to tell you what gender the millipede is. :) The ideal way to get such a photo is if the millipede happens to stretch up on the glass while exploring, but many species are more interested in burrowing and rarely display such behavior. Alternatively, I should be able to determine the gender from a lateral shot if it is a close-up and the millipede is not curled up.
 

Beastie

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If you're able to get a photo of the underside (just need to see the first/anterior/caudal third), I should be able to tell you what gender the millipede is. :) The ideal way to get such a photo is if the millipede happens to stretch up on the glass while exploring, but many species are more interested in burrowing and rarely display such behavior. Alternatively, I should be able to determine the gender from a lateral shot if it is a close-up and the millipede is not curled up.
The pic I first posted is the best one so far, maybe I'll try to get another once it's acclimated.
 

Hisserdude

Arachnoking
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I gathered a bunch of leaf litter and bark from the oak tree out back, (some already decaying and some crunchy but not decayed, I'm going to mix it with coconut bark.
Sorry to butt in, seems like @ErinM31 and @Shellbee have this thread covered, however, just wanted to confirm that for the substrate you are using rotten wood, not bark? 'Cause bark is pretty much inedible, and is completely different from rotten wood. Bark pieces make great hides, however you need rotten wood in the substrate for them to eat.
 

Beastie

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Sorry to butt in, seems like @ErinM31 and @Shellbee have this thread covered, however, just wanted to confirm that for the substrate you are using rotten wood, not bark? 'Cause bark is pretty much inedible, and is completely different from rotten wood. Bark pieces make great hides, however you need rotten wood in the substrate for them to eat.
There were bits and pieces of both, the bark pieces are bigger and I figured would be hides. There are a ton of decaying leaves, I can add more wood but I have a question first; decaying usually involves some forms of mold breakdown do I need to make sure there are no pieces with this on it?
 

Beastie

Arachnoknight
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Jun 24, 2016
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Sorry to butt in, seems like @ErinM31 and @Shellbee have this thread covered, however, just wanted to confirm that for the substrate you are using rotten wood, not bark? 'Cause bark is pretty much inedible, and is completely different from rotten wood. Bark pieces make great hides, however you need rotten wood in the substrate for them to eat.
There were bits and pieces of both, the bark pieces are bigger and I figured would be hides. There are a ton of decaying leaves, I can add more wood but I have a question first; decaying usually involves some forms of mold breakdown do I need to make sure there are no pieces with this on it?
 

Hisserdude

Arachnoking
Joined
Apr 18, 2015
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There were bits and pieces of both, the bark pieces are bigger and I figured would be hides. There are a ton of decaying leaves, I can add more wood but I have a question first; decaying usually involves some forms of mold breakdown do I need to make sure there are no pieces with this on it?
I've found rotten wood without mold on it before, just any wood that has decayed to where it's dark and you can easily crumble it up in your hand. Most molds that grow on rotten wood tend to be edible for millipedes and isopods, however rotten wood and leaves can carry pests like nematodes and mites so people tend to sterilize the stuff before they place it in their cages.
 
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