Giant African Millipede – Swell Reptile species profile

The Giant African Millipede is one of the largest species of millipede and originates from Western Africa. Here it inhabits rain forests and subtropical environments, where it burrows away and resides amongst its favourite meals of rotting wood and forest floor decay.

They are dark brown-black in colour with visible lighter shades around segment edges as well as their legs and antenna. They are often handled in the pet trade and are not aggressive, but can sometimes be intolerant and curl tightly into a ball when stressed so it may take a little while for them to move around when out of their habitat.

Housing

Giant African Millipedes are a large species that like to burrow so an enclosure with good space and depth is much better, especially as they are social and prefer to be housed with a friend. A good example is a 60cm terrarium or a well ventilated plastic container of the same size. Within this area, it is first essential to provide a good depth of loose substrate – a soil is best to use such as coco soil. Mixed in with this you should also incorporate some moss (e.g sphagnum, carpet or cushion moss) as this is great as retaining moisture, and a good amount of leaf litter.

The leaf litter will not only provide cover and make a more natural setting, but it is also an important part of their diet so ensure these are topped up when running low. You should have a variety of wood in the enclosure such as cork pieces, or bogwood – creating an opportunity for hiding, enrichment and again contributing to their dietary needs. A shallow water dish will keep your millipedes hydrated and keep humidity high, so should also be added to the environment.

Heating and lighting

Giant African Millipedes will not require special lighting, though you may decide to add a small LED during the day so you are able to see them and also create better day/night periods. It is also often found that room temperature is sufficient to keep them at, as long as this resides from 20-24C. In cases where the enclosure is much below this a heating source may be required such as a heat mat. This will need to be thermostatically controlled to ensure that the environment doesn’t overheat and dry out. To monitor these conditions, an accurate, digital thermometer should be used.

Humidity

Humidity is an important aspect of this species’ environment and should remain between 70 – 80% – measured with an accurate digital hygrometer. High humidity can come from moisture-holding substrates such as soil and moss, and with regular spraying. Humidity can also pose a risk of mould growth which needs to be removed when visible. A preventative for mould could be to add springtails – tiny ‘clean up crew’ that will live in the soil eating waste and mould that won’t bother your millipedes. You may notice that millipedes come with clean up crew themselves, with tiny mite-like creatures living on their bodies – these are not a concern for health.

Diet

Giant African Millipedes are detritivores – which means they feed on a variety of decaying plant matter. To provide them with all nutritional requirements, your enclosure should include wood such as cork as well as leaf litter – which doubles up as cover and enrichment. You should also provide suitable fruit and veg every now and then, as this can be an important source of vitamins. Food will not need dusting with any supplements, but it is important to provide cuttlebone in the environment, which will create another great nutritional opportunity. A good example of cuttlebone is Komodo’s Cuttlebone Discs.

Swell SuperStore Giant African Millipede

  • Scientific name – Archispirostreptus gigas
  • Adult Expected Size – Up to 15 inches
  • Habitat – Rain forests and subtropical environments of Western Africa.
  • Required Enclosure Size – 60 x 45 x 30 cm or similar sized plastic container (1-2 millipedes).
  • UV Lighting – Not required.
  • Expected Lifespan – 5 – 7 Years
  • Temperature Gradient – 20 – 24C
  • Humidity Levels – 70 – 80%
  • Feeding – Detritivores – Wood, leaf litter and fruit and vegetation
  • Handling – Often handled, but can be intolerant and curl up.


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