- Jan 10, 2017
I ran across a superpod of Orthoporus ornatus last week while road cruising for amblypygi. I gathered a few for the sales list that I am working on for the months when it is cool enough to ship. They were placed in a tub with deep coco fiber mixed with local soil. I added some dried cactus flowers (which a few had been eating) and some oak leaves that were gathered this spring up the mountain. They devoured an apple powdered with calcium but started to become lethargic, and did not produce as much solid frass, within a few days. As I was getting ready to put together a proper millipede substrate I realized that none of the ingredients were native to any O. ornatus superpod locality that I have seen (I know of five now): no coco fiber, no rotting oak wood, no oak leaves, no cuttlefish bone etc. Then I started thinking about what I have observed them eating in the wild. I gathered more dried cactus flowers, rotting saguaro roots, decomposing paddle cactus skeletons, dried stems from fiddleneck weeds, dried grass, mesquite beans, dried mesquite flower and leaf debris, palo verde debris, etc. I mixed it together with local soil and about 30% coco fiber, (placing some on the surface so I could keep track of what they were eating). When I placed them back in their new substrate they promptly went to work eating and within a few days they were producing lots of solid frass pellets. This got me thinking, 'Maybe the reason O. ornatus don't breed in captivity well is because they aren't being fed what they eat in the wild.' I'm going to start experimenting with different natural materials and use the "traditional" millipede substrate as a control group. There are only a handful of plant species that are present in each locality that I have observed but that is still quite a list considering this includes leaves, stems, roots, dried flowers, fruit, seeds, decomposing cactus skeletons/wood etc. So far I have one enclosure with a mix of everything and a bunch of happy millipedes.