Diploda are millipedes. My first interest in this group came about when we purchased some giant millipedes for a non majors class. I had seen similar species in Swaziland but did not have time to study them. Since non-majors do no get exposed to much wildlife, this was one of several organisms which was relatively harmless, large enought to be handled easily and attention getting. This organism, among others, gave students an oportunity to chalange some fears and over come them. Some succeeded and others didn't.
I worked with the millipedes to find a way to rear them in captivity to avoid the need to pay for them and reduce the market for catching them from the wild. From baby to adult size, it took about 4 to 6 years. They grew to be between 6 and 10 inches long with a diameter of a nickel.
Humidity and soil was critical factors in keeping a breeding population going. Of the two, soil was the most important. The young are copophagic so they needed some waste material to remain in the soil from the adults. Feeding them material items with available calcium was best for them. I used cucumbers and yellow squash which also provided moisture during the dry times of winters. They needed to be kept above 70 F or the soil and they would dry up when they molted in the soil.
I have two remaining. I thought I lost the culture about 3 years ago but when I went to dump the soil in the compost, I found 3 small ones. Hopefully I have one female in the group that will produce a new generation.
I now have expanded to making closer observations on the North American Millipede Narceus americana which is one of the largest millipedes in the US and Livingston County. I have started a culture of them and hopefully, I will be able to get some captive breeding started.
I am starting with potting soil and rotting wood which I find them feeding on in the wild. The idea is to innoculate the soil so I can maintain a supply of fungi and other organisms which they consume along with the wood. I should know by next spring if I am successful.
This picture was taken 7 days after the young were notices in the
You can see some of the external anatomy
This is a long shot through the side of the tank to
This shot provides another closeup that allows you to
This is a shot showing the babies burrowing into the
The millipedes are growing much faster than I initially expected. They are
Another shot of the millipedes eating a cucumber
The millipedes usually shed the exoskeleton under the soil.
Another millipede shedding
|A preference test given to the young millipedes using a cucumber and yellow squash resulted in 80 animals going to the cucumber and 3 going to the squash initially. Eventually, the three on the squash moved to the cucumber.|
Some of the millipedes, about 15, have matured and are breeding. The adults are about 6 to 7 inches long. Cucumbers seem to be the prefered food. The most critical factors in caring for the animals are a humid environment and soil deep enough to allow them to bury themselves when they need to molt.
I periodically loosen the soil with my fingers. This allows me to sense millipedes in the soil that are molting and I try not to disturb them since the exoskeleton is usually soft.
I use a commercial seed and seedling potting mix.
I have started to separate the animals by size. Those less than two inches long are kept in smaller boxes will less soil. I have a group that are in the 2 to 4 inch range and the final group, which are over 4 inches in the breeding container.
I seldom find young shorter than a half inch in the breeding container. They seem to stay out of site except when feeding.
|3/4/2007 The babies are now5 years old and range in length 6 to 10 inches long. There are 8 remaining from the initial hatch. So far no new babies. They are living primarily on cucumbers.|
|10/27/2010 During a cleaning of the cage a couple of years ago, I discovered 3 babies in the debris. They have grown fast and I will have images here soon.|