African Giant Millipedes

a close up of an African Giant Milliped crawling across the ground

Are you looking for a unique pet to add to your family? African Giant Millipedes may be the perfect fit! These fascinating creatures are native to tropical Africa and can grow up to 8 inches in length. They are not only interesting to look at, but they also make great pets for first time owners.

African Giant Millipedes are native to Africa, and are one of the largest invertebrates found there. They can grow up to 15 inches long! They are not aggressive or dangerous to humans, and will usually avoid contact with people. They are herbivores, eating mostly fruits and vegetables.

African Giant Millipedes are nocturnal animals, so they will spend most of their time hiding during the day and coming out to explore at night. They are not aggressive and won’t bite, so they make a great pet for children. They can be kept in a terrarium or aquarium with some substrate such as soil, coconut fiber, or peat moss.

African Giant Millipedes are very slow moving pets, and will take several years to mature. They are not territorial, and can live peacefully with other Millipedes. They are very sensitive to temperature changes, and will die quickly if exposed to cold temperatures.

African Giant Millipedes are relatively easy to maintain. They don’t need much food, and will eat most fruits or vegetables. They are very quiet, and most of the time you won’t even know that they’re there. They are very gentle, and won’t bite or scratch anyone. They are also very calm, and won’t react aggressively to loud noises. If you were looking for something different that won’t bother your neighbors, and was always doing something interesting, an African Giant Millipede might be a good insect for your family.

African Giant Millipedes are a great pet for first time owners because they are easy to care for and require minimal attention. They can be handled gently, but should not be squeezed too tightly as this could cause them harm. They also make great conversation starters and can provide hours of entertainment as you watch them explore their environment.

Overall, African Giant Millipedes make great family pets and can provide hours of entertainment and education. They are low maintenance and require minimal care, making them the perfect pet for first time owners. So if you’re looking for a unique pet to add to your family, consider an African Giant Millipede!

African Giant Millipedes Information

  • Average Length: 8 to 12 inches
  • Average Weight: Less than 20 ounces
  • Skin Appearance: Segmented body
  • Skin Colors: Dark brown and green. 
  • Grooming Needs: Low
  • Shedding: 7 to 10 times 
  • Sensitive to Touch: No
  • Biting Tendency: No
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: No 
  • Good Pet: Yes
  • Safe with Children: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Good for Less Experienced Pet Owners: Yes
  • Weight Gain: Normal
  • Health Concerns: Foot Rot and Fungal Disease.
  • Average Life Span: 7 to 10 years.

Physical Appearance of African Giant Millipedes

an African Giant Millipede walking over some rocks

African Giant Millipedes look like insects but they are large arthropods. Arthropods are organisms that have segmented body parts. Millipedes are actually more closely related to shrimp and crabs than they are insects.

Their body can have anywhere between 30 to 40 segments and each segment has 4 legs. The segments after the head have two internal organs, a ganglia to make sure the neuron signals flow through to the rest of the body and arteries from the heart.

Millipedes molt their skins several times over their life. Every time they molt the Millipedes grow more segments that are complete with legs. They only have 3 pairs of legs when they hatch. Millipedes have two antennas and eyes at the top of their head.

These bugs breathe through special tiny pores called spiracles. These are located along the length of their body.

African Giant Millipedes generally are dark brown and black and can be up to 12 inches long.

Temperament of African Giant Millipede

African Giant Millipedes are docile, slow moving bugs that can be handled. If they feel threatened they will curl themselves into a spiral or secrete a liquid from their pores called repugnatorial fluid. This liquid smells awful and if you touch it, it will stain your skin. The fluid smells and tastes awful towards predators and it’s why they release it if they feel threatened. No one wants to eat anything that tastes terrible. Depending on the species this liquid can also cause skin irritations and in some cases blistering.

African Giant Millipedes get along with each other and more than one can be kept together. These bugs breed fast and you should be aware of this if keeping male and female millipedes together.

Their Compatibility with Children

an African Giant Millipede being held in someone's hands

Millipedes’ jaws are extremely weak and can’t bite or hurt their family. Children can handle them without any worry of being bitten. Until you know how your children will interact with your Millipede, an adult should supervise their interactions. These bugs have fragile long bodies and children should be shown how to correctly handle your Millipedes. Knowing how to handle them will reduce the chances that your children will hurt your Millipedes.

Living Space for African Giant Millipede

African Giant millipedes are easy to take care of as a pet and generally do well in captivity. Setting up their enclosure is not expensive because they can be housed in a small glass aquarium.

The tank should be secured from all sides with a heavy lid on top.

Cage Size

The length of the tank should be at least three times their width and two times their length. The floor space of the tank is more important than the height. A 10 to 15-gallon should be large enough for an African Giant Millipede.

Substrate

Millipedes like to burrow and need a good substrate. Their substrate should be around 3 to 4 inches deep. Good substrate options include peat moss or a mixture of peat moss and soil. The soil should be fertilizer and chemical free. Covering this layer with sphagnum moss or pieces of bark can help replicate the natural living conditions of African Giant Millipedes.

Decorations

an African Giant Millipede curled up in a spiral

Decorations like artificial plants and natural wood ornaments can be added. These will make the tank look more natural and give Millipedes several places to hide. Trailing plants can be added to secure electrical wires and equipment.

Water Source

A water bowl with clean chlorine-free water should be kept inside their tank at all times. A large stone should be added into their bowl and it will make sure the millipedes can climb out if they have problems getting out.

Best Climate for African Giant Millipede

Temperature

African Giant Millipedes need a constant air temperature of 70 to 75°F. Adding an under tank heat mat can help keep the temperature warmer. The heat mat should be paired with a thermostat to make sure the temperature remains constant. The heat mats are small and will concentrate heat to one section of the tank, the other side will have a lower temperature. This will let your Millipedes move between the cool and warm areas to regulate their body temperature. 

A thermometer should be kept inside their tank so the temperature can be checked regularly.

Humidity

Millipede’s tank should have a high humidity range between 75 and 85 percent. A good moisture retaining substrate should be used to help keep the humidity high.

The Attention an African Giant

The attention needs of Millipedes consists of caring for their enclosure and feeding them food. Besides these there is not much attention that they need.

While they don’t need regular human interaction, Millipedes usually don’t mind being handled. They can be handled a few times a week. While handling them make sure to be gentle and support their bodies well. Millipedes are long and their entire body should be supported while handling them.

Millipedes need care when they are molting. They need to be left alone during their molting process. Their skin starts to become lighter and their movements slowing down are signs that they are going to molt. They will generally burrow into the substrate when they are molting. Keeping the humidity high is important to help them molt.

Health Issues

Common health issues are:

Fungal Disease

The common consensus is that fungal diseases don’t generally affect healthy Millipedes. Something has to have happened to make them susceptible to the fungus. Typically Millipedes that are stressed from their enclosure not being kept right, old age, or Millipedes suffering from something else like foot rot are the ones most likely to have a fungal disease.

One of the first things you’ll want to do if you suspect one of your Millipedes has a fungal disease will be to see if their enclosure is what it should be for your pets needs. If it is, then we suggest lowering the humidity in their enclosure.

Some Millipede owners report having good luck with a 50% diluted athlete’s foot medication applied where the fungal infection is. We recommend calling your vet and seeing what they recommend because medication for people may not be the best for your pet.

Foot Rot

Millipede foot rot is caused by bacteria in their enclosure. It’s a very common problem that most Millipedes will deal with in their life. You’ll be able to see some of the legs on your Millipede turning into little black stumps.

The good news is that this isn’t terribly hard to treat and fix. You’ll want to reduce the humidity and moisture levels in your Millipedes enclosure. Moisture helps bacteria thrive. Replace the substrate with something fresh and be careful not to keep the substrate too moist or the problem won’t go away.

After your Millipede molts a few times you should see their legs and feet growing back as long as all the bacteria has been killed off.

Mites

Mites on your Millipedes can be a controversial subject. Some places like Science Daily say that they’re good for owners because we’ll be less allergic to the Millipedes, and that it’s a symbiotic relationship and not parasitic. Others say that this only applies to specific types of mites, and it can be difficult to know what type of mites your Millipede has.

The easiest method to remove the mites is to use the “shake and bake” method. This is where you put your Millipedes in a bag with a powder and then clean them up. People normally use flour or cornstarch, but some people have complained about how not all gets off when they try to brush it off, and the flour can get clumpy if it gets wet. Others prefer calcium powder because it doesn’t stick as well when you try to remove it.

The method involves putting a single Millipede in a plastic ziploc bag for a few seconds and making sure they get the powder on them. The mites will stick to the powder and should release from your Millipede when you clean them. Some people prefer to use a paintbrush to remove the powder, others like using a can of compressed air to blow the powder off.

It’s important to move your “cleaned” Millipedes to a holding area and not put them back in their enclosure until it has been completely cleaned out. You don’t want to remove the mites, and then put your Millipedes back to have new mites possibly climb on them.

General African Giant Millipedes Care

African Giant Millipedes need a clean living enclosure. Their tank should be cleaned once a week. Use a paper towel to remove uneaten food or feces daily. Completely clean their tank by replacing the substrate and removing all of the decorations once a month.

Feeding An African Giant Millipede

Giant millipedes are herbivores and should be fed a variety of fruits and vegetables. They prefer soft fruits and vegetables over harder foods. Their food should be cut into small pieces so it is easier for them to eat.

Leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, melon, peaches, cucumbers and bananas are all good foods for them. African Giant Millipedes are known to like cucumber and it should be fed more often than other vegetables. Their food shouldn’t be washed in tap water before being fed to them. Tap water might contain chlorine which can be toxic for Millipedes.

Millipedes should be fed once a day and only an amount that they can eat within a few minutes of being fed. The food can be given to them in a shallow dish or the lid from a jar. Millipedes like to eat food that is starting to rot, it’s not bad to leave uneaten food in their tank for a few hours.

Their food can be occasionally dusted with vitamin supplements containing calcium.

Related Questions:

Why are They Called Millipedes?

Millipede is a term derived from two Latin words – mil meaning thousand and ped meaning feet. Some people started referring to these bugs as thousand leggers and hence the name. Fun fact, they don’t have 1,000 legs. While African Giant Millipedes can have several hundred legs, one with 1,000 legs has not been found yet. The Millipede with the highest leg count had 750 legs!

Are African Giant Millipedes Poisonous?

African Giant Millipedes are not poisonous for humans, but some species produce an irritating fluid. This liquid is non-poisonous and will only cause minor irritation if it comes in contact with your skin. Washing your hands after handling your Millipede or their tank can help you avoid skin irritations.

Why has my Millipede Disappeared?

Millipedes generally hide in the substrate when they are molting. They should not be disturbed during this time because it can cause molting problems. The molting process can take a few days to weeks. During this time, your Millipede will hide in the substrate and will stop eating food.

If they disappear, it can be because they are dying and a bad smell will be something to watch out for if you suspect this.