Do millipedes?

Ratmosphere

Arachnoking
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Do millipedes always secrete fluids when you handle them? I know some have a dark fluid type that they let go when they're threatened. How about this yellow secretion I always hear about? People tell me if you handle a millipede they'll leave a small yellow spot on their skin. Is this true?
 

mickiem

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Most millipedes have this defensive. In my experience, the fluid looks yellow when it is wet but dries very dark. I read that the dark stains are actually chemical burns but there is no pain or discomfort (to me). There may be to some who is are sensitive to it than others. I have extremely sensitive skin and I suffer no ill effects. Some species are more prone to secreting that are others. The millipedes I have who seem to secrete more are Thai Rainbows and N. gordos. I have never been secreted on by an Ivory or AGB. I am sure you could annoy any of them enough that they would be happy to secrete on you. :p
 

ErinM31

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Do millipedes always secrete fluids when you handle them? I know some have a dark fluid type that they let go when they're threatened. How about this yellow secretion I always hear about? People tell me if you handle a millipede they'll leave a small yellow spot on their skin. Is this true?
It very much depends on both the species of millipede and, for lack of a better word, their "mood." Narceus, Chicobolus and Orthoporus millipedes rarely secrete in my experience. However, when one of my N. americanus was gravid, she secreted rather profusely. Once one of my O. ornatus secreted and squirmed and defecated when handled (so I quickly returned her to the enclosure) and I do not know why as these millipedes are usually calm in my experience and more likely to just nibble on you a bit than anything. My N. gordanus have never secreted on me. In contrast, my Tylobolus millipedes are more apt to secrete even with gentle handling, but it is not excessive.

In my experience, the fluid looks yellow when it is wet but dries very dark. I read that the dark stains are actually chemical burns but there is no pain or discomfort (to me).
This is my experience as well. Every secretion that I have seen has looked yellow. I also have sensitive skin and a sensitive system in general but have experienced little to no discomfort from these secretions. Also, if you are quick to rinse it off your hands, the temporary dark staining can be minimized.

No in my experience, all Polydesmidans will secrete if bothered at all but it is airborne rather than a fluid. Honestly, this concerns me more than the fluid secretions, especially knowing that some produce cyanide. I do not handle any of my millipedes often, but these especially I bother as little as possible both to limit their stress and to limit my exposure to it.
 

Ratmosphere

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All of this talk about cyanide and stuff is making me steer away from getting one haha! I really appreciate the help though.
 

BobBarley

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I've been secreted on (man that sounds weird) a lot... Back before I really knew much about millipedes I was trying to sex some Tylobolus sp. and didn't know where the secretions came from so I was sorta pinch grabbing them.... I'm happy to report there were no ill effects, though it did get all over my hands. At first the secretion was a yellow-orange, and it darkened to a brownish-purplish-blackish. It smelled very sharp, but... Lol wouldn't say it's a bad smell. Kinda annoying as it was extremely hard to wash off and stayed on my hands for the better part of a week or so.
 

ErinM31

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All of this talk about cyanide and stuff is making me steer away from getting one haha! I really appreciate the help though.
Nooo, don't worry about that! I just always try to be thorough in my answers! I would not recommend most Polydesmidan millipedes (at least those available in the U.S.) to someone new to the hobby, more for the particulars of their husbandry than the cyanide.

With the large round millipedes you're likely considering, you've nothing to worry about. :) At worst you'll get temporarily stained skin. I would just not hold the millipedes too often for the sake of their health and safety (dropping far or onto a hard surface can kill them) and by all means, if they seem stressed, let them be in their enclosure. Again, I say that mostly for the millipedes' benefit -- the worst you would risk are some temporary skin stains and getting pooped on -- nothing hazardous!
 

Ratmosphere

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So it's more of a defense mechanism? It's not like they walk around and just secrete it when they want to?
 

ErinM31

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So it's more of a defense mechanism? It's not like they walk around and just secrete it when they want to?
Exactly! They will also secrete when injured, probably as anti-fungal protection. The most defensive/"anxious" millipedes I've had have secreted just a bit (enough for me to smell) when I merely opened the lid of their enclosure, but this response went away quickly as they became accustomed to their new habitat. But yes, in all cases, a defense mechanism. What varies are the threshold at which different millipedes feel threatened and the chemical composition of the secretion, which varies between species and especially between different orders.
 
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