Do Giant Millipedes Make Good Pets?

Children's hands holding giant millipede

The gigantic millipede is the ideal exotic pet for beginners since it is simple to maintain and care for. The enormous millipede species differ slightly in appearance, but they are generally similar in behavior and needs. A safe aquarium tank with a warm light source and controlled humidity is required for giant millipedes. They often don't mind being handled, and they consume readily available veggies. Just remember to wash your hands after handling a millipede since when startled, it may release a poison from its body.

Species Overview

Common Names: Giant millipede, African giant millipede

Scientific Names: Archispirostreptus spp., Scaphiostreptus spp.

Adult Size: up to 13 inches long

Lifespan: 5 to 10 years

Can You Own a Giant Millipede?


It is perfectly legal to own a giant millipede as a pet in the U.S., but it is not legal to import wild-caught specimens across the U.S. border.


Because it is easy to provide proper housing and care for giant millipedes, there is very little ethical controversy about owning them.

Things to Consider

For those who appreciate "creepy-crawly" critters and those trying to get over their anxieties of them, giant millipedes make entertaining pets. Giant millipedes make excellent exotic pets since they are placid and tolerant of handling and have very straightforward housing and dietary requirements.

Giant Millipede Behavior and Temperament

Giant millipedes are slow-moving and quite docile, making them safe to handle. You may maintain more than one in the same tank since they get along well with each other. However, these millipedes do reproduce pretty easily, so if you mix men and females, you could find many of kids. The seventh body segment of male millipedes has modified legs called gonopods. The grabbing claws on these legs give them a distinct appearance from the other legs, and they are frequently carried curled beneath the body.

These arthropods are mostly calm, however they do occasionally become terrified. When that occurs, they have two major defense mechanisms: first, they curl into a tight spiral, and then, through body pores, they produce an abrasive liquid.


A millipede may exude a yellow-brown fluid from each body segment. This fluid is known as repugnatorial fluid because it repels predators with its unpleasant odor and taste. Always wash your hands after handling a millipede because the fluid, which is composed of hydrogen cyanide, may irritate your eyes and mouth. While certain species are more hazardous than others, some humans are more susceptible to the fluids than others.


As long as they are kept in an environment that meets their demands, giant millipedes thrive in captivity. Typically, a 10 to 15-gallon aquarium has enough space for a few millipedes. Height is less significant than floor area. To avoid the millipedes from sneaking out, a tight-fitting lid is a good option; just make sure the lid is vented with holes tiny enough to let air in while preventing the millipedes from leaving.

Specific Substrate Needs

A 3 to 4-inch layer of peat moss or a peat moss/soil mixture (without chemicals or fertilizers added) can serve as the basis because millipedes like to dig a little bit. To offer further cover, this can be coated with some sphagnum moss and bark fragments. You may also use leaf litter, but you might want to freeze it first to get rid of any potential bugs.

Specific Heat and Humidity Needs

The ideal temperature for gigantic millipedes is a topic of debate. Since millipedes are indigenous to tropical regions, many keepers advise keeping the tank at a temperature of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, if not even 85. You may use an under-tank on a thermostat (typically supplied for reptile care) put under only one-half of the tank to create these conditions.

The heat pad can be attached to the side or rear of the tank if placing a heater underneath the tank overheats or dries up the substrate. On the other side, a lot of keepers don't offer any extra heating at all. If this is the case, make sure your room is at least 72 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, however a minor dip during the night should be OK. The tank's humidity should constantly be regulated between 75 and 80 percent. This may be done by continuously spraying the substrate and monitoring the relative humidity using a relative humidity meter.

What Do Giant Millipedes Eat and Drink?

Giant millipedes are herbivorous animals that feed on aged and decomposing (but not rotting) plant matter in the wild. They may be fed a range of fruits and vegetables in minute bits while kept in captivity. Try lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, melon, peaches, and bananas. Cucumber is believed to be a favorite meal of millipedes. Since all invertebrates are particularly susceptible to chlorine toxicity, it is never a good idea to wash millipede food in chlorinated town or city tap water.

Additionally, always have a shallow dish of clean, fresh water free of chlorine accessible for your millipedes. To avoid drowning, always place a huge stone in the dish to serve as a climb-out ladder.

Approximately as much food as your pet will consume in that period of time should be provided once every day (this may take a little experimentation and observation). Foods can be fed in a jar lid or small dish. It is beneficial to leave leftover food in the tank for about a day since they love food that is beginning to go bad. You can occasionally add calcium to their diet by gently sprinkling part of their food with a vitamin supplement.

Common Health Problems

Even seasoned physicians who specialize on exotic animals sometimes lack expertise caring for pet invertebrates. African giant millipede owners must take responsibility for their millipede's health through careful regulation of food, water, humidity, and housing because the specialists accessible to you might not be able to offer care for one. Use a cheap pool chemistry test kit to examine the water for residues of chlorine and chloramine (disinfectants used to treat drinking water), and always double-check the caliber and cleanliness of the food and substrate you are offering.

There are a few health problems that African giant millipedes may have, most often mites. If you got your pet from an untrustworthy breeder, this might quickly become a problem. While certain mites assist the millipede keep its body clean and dwell on it (posing no health hazards), other mites adhere to one area (usually the head) and remain there like parasites. Tweezers should be used to remove them as fast and delicately as possible.

Fungal infections, which can be brought on by a tank environment with too much or too little humidity, may also affect your millipede. Unfortunately, the appearance of fungus is frequently a sign of an already sick or dying millipede and is frequently deadly.

Size Information

Giant millipedes are much bigger than the common centipedes and millipedes we see in the U.S. When fully grown, they can be up to 13 inches long and about as big around as a golf ball.

Pros and Cons of Keeping a Giant Millipede as a Pet

In compared to many other exotic pets, giant millipedes require less maintenance. They don't occupy much room and don't create any noise. If you're searching for cuddliness, they are not especially so, and handling them may cause you to acquire a stinging material on your skin that millipedes release when they are irritated.

Purchasing Your Giant Millipede

Giant millipedes must be obtained from a breeder or pet store based in the United States that breeds them there. The importation of these animals into the United States via international trade is prohibited. Make sure the breeder is reputable, licensed, and has a history of satisfied customers.

Similar Pets to the Giant Millipede

If you’re interested in other invertebrates you can keep as pets, check out:

  • Are giant millipedes hard to take care of?

    No—in fact, they're considered among the easiest invertebrates to care for. As long as you maintain the proper environment for them, caring for the millipede should be very easy.

  • How long do giant millipedes live as pets?

    While their lifespan is between 5 and 7 years in the wild, giant millipedes that are kept as pets can live up to 10 years with proper care.

  • Do giant millipedes comes in different colors?

    No—this specific variety of millipedes is only black, with some dark brown coloration. However, there are other species—such as the Ghana chocolate millipede—that are lighter in color.


"Millipedes and Centipedes. University of Georgia Extension." ;