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A Guide to Caring for Pet Millipedes

Everything You Need to Know About Keeping Millipedes as Pets

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African giant millipede, a popular arthropod pet.

African giant millipede, a popular arthropod pet.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/George Chernilevsky

If you've never cared for an arthropod pet before, a millipede is a good first choice. Millipedes are herbivorous, so they are easy and inexpensive to feed. They're fairly low maintenance pets, and can be handled even by young children, with supervision, of course.

Many pet stores sell African giant millipedes, which grow to 10 inches or more in length. You can also try keeping millipedes you collect in the wild, but keep in mind that brightly colored millipedes usually secrete hydrogen cyanide, which can cause an unpleasant burning sensation on sensitive skin.

Things You Should Know About Keeping Pet Millipedes

Before bringing home any live animal, it's important to know what to expect. Does a millipede require a lot of care? Can you keep more than one in the same enclosure? Do they bite or sting? Though pet millipedes are a good choice in most circumstances, you should weigh the pros and cons of keeping them before you bring one home.

Choosing a Millipede at the Pet Store

As with any pet, it's important to choose a healthy individual. In general, millipedes have few health issues, and you're unlikely to find sickly millipedes at your local pet store. Still, it's good to know how to recognize an unhealthy millipede before you make a purchase, so you can avoid problems once you bring one home.

Housing Your Pet Millipede

The key to caring for millipedes successfully is to provide them the appropriate habitat. Millipedes require ample floor space, while the height of the terrarium is less important. You can use a number of different materials for the substrate. An appropriate water source for your millipede is important as well.

Maintaining the Proper Environment for Your Pet Millipede

Most large millipedes you can purchase from pet stores or science catalogs come from the tropics. They require a higher temperature and humidity level than other arthropods commonly kept as pets. All pet millipedes need adequate moisture, which means you must use a proper substrate and mist the terrarium regularly.

Feeding Your Pet Millipede

The herbivorous millipede will happily munch on almost any fruit or vegetable you offer, although they do have favorites. They also require calcium in their diets in order to molt and grow properly. You'll need to know how to prepare their food, how to supplement their diet with calcium, and how often to feed them.

Handling Your Pet Millipede

Even a millipede can feel nervous! You should always strive to keep your millipede feeling secure and comfortable, even when you are handling it. It's also important to know how millipedes defend themselves, in the event your pet millipede does feel threatened in your hands.

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