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Cavedweller's Basic Millipede Caresheet

Discussion in 'Myriapods' started by Cavedweller, May 21, 2014.

  1. Cavedweller

    Cavedweller Arachnoprince

    Cavedweller’s Millipede Basics
    Care tips are generalized and may vary by species.
    Last updated 05-21-14

    Introduction: Millipedes are slow moving, peaceful detritivores, organisms that eat dead plant matter and turn it into soil. They are not insects, but rather of the class Diplopoda. Millipedes share the subphylum Myriapoda and a similar shape with the fast, predatory centipede, but have little else in common.

    Millipedes As Pets: They are not the pet for everyone. They don’t like being handled too often. They spend most of their time underground, and usually emerge at night. However, they are quiet, don’t need much space, and are very cheap and easy to care for. Millipedes can be housed together in groups, and come in a variety of colors. Some species can live a decade or more.

    Diet: Rotten leaves and rotten wood. “Treats” can be offered once or twice a week (dog kibble, cucumber, melon, apple, mushroom, carrot, ect). Fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed and pesticide-free. Uneaten treats should be removed within a day or two. No water bowl is needed, millipedes get moisture from the substrate.

    Substrate: 50% dead leaves and crumbled rotten hardwood (oak, aspen, maple, ect), 50% coconut husk bedding. Add an additional inch or two of dead leaves on top of the substrate. Never use conifers or aromatic plants such as pine, cedar, or eucalyptus, as they contain toxic resin. As the old substrate is eaten and converted to waste, add more leaves/wood. Replace with fresh substrate once or twice a year. Chemical-free hardwood sawdust or aspen shaving pet bedding can be mixed into the substrate as an additional food source, but will take some time to decompose.

    Enclosure: The enclosure should be twice as long as the biggest millipede. Substrate should be at least as deep as the length of the biggest millipede. Millipedes can be kept in plastic tubs with airholes in the lid (make sure the holes aren’t big enough for the millipedes to escape). Millipedes don’t need cage decorations as they spend most of their time underground.

    Environment: Room temperature (69 to 78°F/21 to 25°C). Heat pads/lamps are dangerous for millipedes. Keep the substrate moist and mist every few days as the top layer of substrate dries out.

    Handling: Always your wash hands before and after handling. Don’t handle millipedes too often to avoid excessive stress. Millipedes will coil up when frightened, but can also secrete a foul-tasting poison to deter predators. This substance may stain the skin but isn’t dangerous to humans (barring an allergic reaction). Wash it off immediately and keep it out of your eyes and mouth.

    Sexing: A male millipede is missing the legs on his 7th segment, instead possessing reproductive organs here. A female has normal legs on the 7th segment.
    In some species, such as Narceus americanus and Chicobolus spingerus, the male's 7th segment is also noticeably enlarged.

    Life Cycle: Some millipede species breed readily in captivity. The egg capsules often look like fecal pellets, so be careful throwing out waste. Newly hatched young emerge tiny and colorless, and some species take years to mature. In addition to the typical diet, the young also feed on the adult’s waste to obtain necessary gut bacteria.

    Molting: Millipedes grow by periodically shedding their exoskeleton. This is usually done underground and may take several weeks, so don’t worry if your millipede retreats underground for an extended period. Do not disturb your millipede during this time.

    Mites: Millipede enclosures can host a variety of mites, some beneficial and some not. Larger mites that travel over the millipede’s body or wander the substrate are usually helpful, helping to keep the host and enclosure clean. However, one must watch out for the dangerous grain mite. These tiny, white, slow-moving mites can cover a millipede and infest its enclosure if supplementary food is left in too long or the leaves/wood provided are too fresh. Grain mites can be controlled by replacing the substrate and withholding supplementary food such as fruit. A heavy infestation of grain mites can be managed by introducing the predatory mite Hypoaspis miles (available for purchase at gardening websites). Parasitic mites are rare in captivity and not covered in the scope of this caresheet.

    Further reading/Sources:
    Millipedes in Captivity by Orin McMonigle

    ---------- Post added 05-21-2014 at 09:10 PM ----------

    Here's the caresheet, if you guys have any corrections or suggestions for stuff to add please let me know! I've also made a version for print but I'm not sure where to host a PDF file for sharing, you know where I can do that?
    • Like Like x 32
    • Informative Informative x 4
    • Helpful Helpful x 2
  2. MrCrackerpants

    MrCrackerpants Arachnoprince

    :) Awesome! :)
  3. wastedwoodsman

    wastedwoodsman Arachnosquire

    Great basic caresheet! Covers most everything in detail but is a quick enough read to keep people from losing interest! Thanks for sharing and taking the time to make this!
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  4. mukmewx

    mukmewx Arachnosquire

    This is a great starting place for anyone looking to get into the hobby. I also love the drawings! Good job!
    • Like Like x 1
  5. I would describe your caresheet as: concise, sweet, and accurate (to the best of my knowledge). Nice job.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Wooper

    Wooper Arachnopeon

    This is really helpful and well written! Thank you. :D
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Aquarimax

    Aquarimax Arachnoangel

    Thanks for putting this great care sheet together. You could easily host in in PDF format on dropbox, anyone with the link should be able to access it. It works for me.
  8. Cavedweller

    Cavedweller Arachnoprince

    Thanks for the tip, I'll look into getting a dropbox account
  9. Google Drive works in a similar manner and if you have a Google account you can use drive without any additional hassle.
  10. Cavedweller

    Cavedweller Arachnoprince

    • Like Like x 1
  11. MrCrackerpants

    MrCrackerpants Arachnoprince

  12. Aquarimax

    Aquarimax Arachnoangel

    It works like a charm! Google drive is a great suggestion too. It wouldn't hurt to do both, and have it in more than one place...
  13. Cavedweller

    Cavedweller Arachnoprince

    I'm under the impression Google drive would reveal my name and email though, and that's not really something I wanna link on a public forum.

    Is it possible for a mod to put the link to the PDF in the first post?
  14. dactylus

    dactylus Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Thank you for the informative, well written post!

  15. zurgie

    zurgie Arachnopeon

    Thank you for this! Very straightforward.
  16. Ratmosphere

    Ratmosphere Arachnoking

    Can you use heat treated substrate?
  17. Cavedweller

    Cavedweller Arachnoprince

    What do you mean by heat treated? I just bake mine in the oven.
  18. leaveittoweaver

    leaveittoweaver Arachnoknight

    This is great! Thanks for sharing.
  19. Ratmosphere

    Ratmosphere Arachnoking

    50% coconut husk mixed with the other components? Could this be used with African giant millipedes or would an organic potting soil mixture be better?
  20. mynxjynx

    mynxjynx Arachnopeon

    Thank you so much. You answered a lot of my questions. My daughter fell in love with a Bummblebee Millipede and I wanted to do some research before purchasing this creature. Is there anyway to tell that they are go to start the molting process so that we know not to handle it or go searching for it?
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