Beginner Millipede Questions

WeightedAbyss75

Arachnoangel
Joined
Feb 22, 2014
Messages
921
Hola! Over the past few weeks, I have been considering millipedes as my next addition to my collection, and I have a few questions:

What millipedes at good beginners? I hear O. ornatus, but are there any more colorful species? Not too well versed in myriapods, so just looking for other options. I have seen T. macropygus, and feather millipedes that peak my interest. Are they difficult to care for?

Also, is it important to have rotting wood in with them? I have plenty of cork bark, but how would I rot it if necessary?

One last thing, what about mold? I figure mold would be an issue with moist enclosure + rotting wood, but many of them like the rot. Is fungal growth and mold a huge deal?

Sorry if these are noob questions. Just want to make sure of what I am getting into. As long as I can get millipedes down, I'm sure isopods will come naturally as well (also want to keep species of isopod as well).

Gracias, Abyss
 

Hisserdude

Arachnoking
Active Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2015
Messages
2,233
Chicobolus spinigerus and the Narceus species are great beginner millipedes, I believe Orthoporus need a lot more ventilation than other millipedes and you probably won't get young from them, but they are easy to keep. The Brachycybe are technically easy to keep but require a substrate that is pretty much just rotten wood, don't know if they even need dead leaves or not.

Yes, you need soft, rotting wood, cork bark will not become rotten enough for your millipedes to eat and is not edible. If you live by any forests it should be easy enough to collect, just look for logs and find some that are decayed to the point that the wood is brown and soft enough to break apart in your hands. If you can't find any yourself then you can ferment sawdust to create rotten wood or buy some premium millipede substrate from Bugincyberspace.

Another important component in most millipedes' substrate is dead hardwood leaves, which are usually very easy to find. Leaves that have been on the ground for at least a season that are brown in color should be good for your millipedes.

Mold usually isn't a huge issue, if you leave supplemental foods on the substrate for too long then yes you'll get mold, so I suggest taking any supplemental food out of the cage after a couple days. The substrate itself shouldn't get too moldy, sometimes short fuzzy mold will grow all over the surface of new substrate, but it goes away after a week or so, and the millipedes probably won't mind it. :) If you are really worried you can get some springtails and place them in the enclosure, they are great for keeping mold growth down.

Isopods are way easier than millipedes BTW, since they don't require any rotten wood at all and are way faster growing (and breeding).
 

WeightedAbyss75

Arachnoangel
Joined
Feb 22, 2014
Messages
921
I may be missing something, but how do I ferment sawdust? I definitly can get some of it, but do I just let it sit soaking wet in a tub? In Illinois, Winter is pretty strong right now. Can't quite go and collect some rotting wood unfortunately. Also, would baking this wood if from outside kill what is needed for decay? What is the process? Figure rotting wood would help the isopods reproduce as well, thinking an awesome brachycybe natural setup in a 5 gal could look amazing! Hear they are pretty active.
 

Hisserdude

Arachnoking
Active Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2015
Messages
2,233
I may be missing something, but how do I ferment sawdust? I definitly can get some of it, but do I just let it sit soaking wet in a tub? In Illinois, Winter is pretty strong right now. Can't quite go and collect some rotting wood unfortunately. Also, would baking this wood if from outside kill what is needed for decay? What is the process? Figure rotting wood would help the isopods reproduce as well, thinking an awesome brachycybe natural setup in a 5 gal could look amazing! Hear they are pretty active.
I wrote a post on my blog a while back on how to ferment sawdust, it should give you an idea of what to do.
If you collected the wood from outside then you definitely should bake it, it will kill everything on it but as long as you don't burn it then it should still be edible to your millipedes, and you definitely don't want any pests like mites coming in with the wood. Not sure of the exact process that makes wood rotten, @Ranitomeya might know though.

The only thing that isopods need in their diet to reproduce is dead leaves, everything else is just supplemental. Here in SW Idaho rotten wood is pretty scarce, so I don't really offer it to them at all, however if it's a common commodity around you then it couldn't hurt to add it to their setup, I bet they'd eat it right up! :D

I agree, that sounds like a cool setup, be sure to post pics if you end up doing it! :)
 

Ranitomeya

Arachnoknight
Joined
Oct 11, 2012
Messages
250
I don't bake my substrate or pieces of wood since I don't like the smell it puts off and the risk of burning the wood exists. Baking is also a pretty inefficient way of heating things up since heated air has relatively low energy--it would take hours of baking to sufficiently heat all the way to the center of a decent chunk of wood and extended heating dries out the wood and increases the fire risk. I use boiling hot water instead and soak my substrate or whole pieces of wood. Large pieces of wood are soaked more than once to ensure that the center of it has been heated sufficiently. Substrate can be treated just once and then after it's cool enough to handle, you just strain the excess moisture from the substrate with some cloth and squeeze or wring it out until it's at the right moisture level.

Wood rots when microorganisms or fungi start breaking down its components for food. White rot is usually the result of fungal action and enzymes are released to break down some of the cellulose and most of the lignin. Soft rot and brown rot can be the result of fungi, bacteria, or other microorganisms and is the result of cellulose being broken down so that it's primarily lignin left behind. Lignin is higher in chemical energy than cellulose, but animals cannot digest lignin on their own and require symbionts. Most wood-decay organisms require a decent amount of moisture to break down wood, so making sure the pieces of wood are hydrated--but not waterlogged--will speed up the process of colonization and keep the organisms alive or active long enough to start breaking down the wood noticeably.

Fermentation would not kill pests. It would feed them instead and you would end up with a container overflowing with mites. Substrate should definitely be free of mites and other pests before you add flour or other sources of carbohydrates for fermentation.

My thoughts on fermentation of substrate is that when we ferment substrate, we make the substrate more suitable for colonization by using yeast and simple carbs to produce nutrients that will feed the fungi or microorganisms that find their way into it. Very few yeasts have the ability to break down cellulose and I'm not sure any of them can break down lignin, so they are not the organisms in charge of breakdown of substrate. Instead, they're the workforce for making the substrate appealing for colonization by using up the simple carbs that pesky molds would quickly colonize and turning it into substances such as lactic acid and alcohol instead. Lactic acid is readily accepted by many bacteria and isn't a mold-magnet, so it's probably the nutrient source. An additional benefit is that yeast itself is pretty nutritious and adds nutrients to the substrate for the invertebrates feeding on it by simply being there. Substrate is not usable right after fermentation ceases because fermentation stops when the carbohydrates run out, not because the wood is broken down sufficiently for use. I always leave my substrate for an additional month or two until the sawdust feels softened rather than slightly abrasive.
 

HexaDiplo

Arachnopeon
Joined
Dec 7, 2016
Messages
19
The giant african millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas) is hardy and live long, and can get pretty big. Ive had two for an year now. They are also great to handle. I havent tried breeding them.
 

Notaloka

Arachnopeon
Joined
Feb 15, 2019
Messages
10
I don't bake my substrate or pieces of wood since I don't like the smell it puts off and the risk of burning the wood exists. Baking is also a pretty inefficient way of heating things up since heated air has relatively low energy--it would take hours of baking to sufficiently heat all the way to the center of a decent chunk of wood and extended heating dries out the wood and increases the fire risk. I use boiling hot water instead and soak my substrate or whole pieces of wood. Large pieces of wood are soaked more than once to ensure that the center of it has been heated sufficiently. Substrate can be treated just once and then after it's cool enough to handle, you just strain the excess moisture from the substrate with some cloth and squeeze or wring it out until it's at the right moisture level.

Wood rots when microorganisms or fungi start breaking down its components for food. White rot is usually the result of fungal action and enzymes are released to break down some of the cellulose and most of the lignin. Soft rot and brown rot can be the result of fungi, bacteria, or other microorganisms and is the result of cellulose being broken down so that it's primarily lignin left behind. Lignin is higher in chemical energy than cellulose, but animals cannot digest lignin on their own and require symbionts. Most wood-decay organisms require a decent amount of moisture to break down wood, so making sure the pieces of wood are hydrated--but not waterlogged--will speed up the process of colonization and keep the organisms alive or active long enough to start breaking down the wood noticeably.

Fermentation would not kill pests. It would feed them instead and you would end up with a container overflowing with mites. Substrate should definitely be free of mites and other pests before you add flour or other sources of carbohydrates for fermentation.

My thoughts on fermentation of substrate is that when we ferment substrate, we make the substrate more suitable for colonization by using yeast and simple carbs to produce nutrients that will feed the fungi or microorganisms that find their way into it. Very few yeasts have the ability to break down cellulose and I'm not sure any of them can break down lignin, so they are not the organisms in charge of breakdown of substrate. Instead, they're the workforce for making the substrate appealing for colonization by using up the simple carbs that pesky molds would quickly colonize and turning it into substances such as lactic acid and alcohol instead. Lactic acid is readily accepted by many bacteria and isn't a mold-magnet, so it's probably the nutrient source. An additional benefit is that yeast itself is pretty nutritious and adds nutrients to the substrate for the invertebrates feeding on it by simply being there. Substrate is not usable right after fermentation ceases because fermentation stops when the carbohydrates run out, not because the wood is broken down sufficiently for use. I always leave my substrate for an additional month or two until the sawdust feels softened rather than slightly abrasive.

Sorry for necro a old post, But i've been having this question for a long time and no one has responded to me for it. For how long do you boil the wood?
 
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