Giant Millipede Care and Feeding

with notes on babies hatched ~ 4/7/2002


picture of baby giant millipedes
This picture was taken 7 days after the young were notices in the tank. I did not have a ruler at the time. The young varied in size from a quarter inch to 3/8th inch. The possible parents were perfoming mating about a year ago but no egg masses were noticed in the tank where we kept them. Since then, one of the pair has died. When the young were noticed, I removed the adults. The shere size difference had me worried about keeping together. I will try to get a few shots of the adult and young next to each other to provide some perspective.
picture of baby giant millipedes
This picture shows a few of the young together. You can see some of the external anatomy
picture of baby giant millipedes

This is a long shot through the side of the tank to give some relative size of the young. There is a 100mm petri dish to the left and greenish grey object is a cucumber which the young and adults seem to prefer as a food source along with yellow squash. The grey material is mold which grows on the food after two or 3 days. This does not seem to deter the young. They will consume skin, seeds and pulp of the cucumber or squash.

picture of baby giant millipedes

This shot provides another closeup that allows you to see more of the anatomy. Hoepfully I will get better at getting things in focus. The eye of the animal in the center is visible.

They avoid bright lights so many of them burrow almost immediately when the room lights are turned on.

picture of baby giant millipedes

This is a shot showing the babies burrowing into the soil.

picture of young millipedes eating cucumber

The millipedes are growing much faster than I initially expected. They are now between 1.5 and 3 inches long. They eat an 8 inch long cucumber in 5 days, including the skin and seeds.

The moisture, which accumulates in the soil, requires that I change the soil once every two months. At the last change, (01/19/03), I counted 83 millipedes.

picture of young millipedes eating cucumber

Another shot of the millipedes eating a cucumber

picture of young millipedes shedding

The millipedes usually shed the exoskeleton under the soil. In this case, I found a couple of them shedding at the surface.

picture of young millipedes shedding

Here is a shot of a millipede in the process of shedding.

It appears that the exoskeleton splits laterally on one side and the millipede pulls itself out. Enlarging this picture will show the legs still attached to part of the exoskeleton.

picture of adult millipedes mating

I obtained more adult specimens in August of this year from Ward's Natural Science. When they were retrieved from labs in December and placed together in a 10 gal tank, mating behavior started.

picture of adult millipedes mating

If you look closely, you will see transluscent mucus between the millipedes at the anterior end. This material is formed during the transfer of sperm.


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.

Updated 07/09/2004


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