Giant African Train Millipede Care

A Giant African Millipede alongside and Irish species. Credit: Collie Ennis
A Giant African Millipede alongside and Irish species. Credit: Collie Ennis

Giant African Train Millipede Care.

Other Names: Giant Millipede, African Black Millipede, and Tanzanian Giant Black Millipede. *Please note that ALL millipedes can secrete a liquid that may be dangerous to some people. Although most people are not affected by this species, some people may be allergic to the liquid, or just more sensitive, making it potentially dangerous, especially if put into the eyes or mouth. Effects of these natural defences may vary from person to person.

Millipedes are an interesting and rewarding group of invertebrates to care for and breed and by far the best for a beginner is the giant African millipede, also known as the Tanzanian or train millipede. Native to tropical and sub-tropical western Africa, this species is terrestrial, but will burrow to some extent and may climb during the breeding season. This species is slow growing, but can reach adult sizes of 7.5 to 11 inches. Their calm demeanour, and relatively simple requirements, makes them an excellent species for keepers who are new to invertebrate care.

Purchasing a millipede can be done from local breeders or in a reputable exotic pet store, wild caught animals should be avoided as many die in captivity and the pet trade is a major strain on wild populations. When you get your millipede you may notice many small mites crawling on its exoskeleton, contrary to popular belief these are harmless and actually help maintain the millipedes ‘skin’ so do not remove them.

Housing. Housing millipedes is relatively inexpensive. A 20lt plastic box or fish tank with a good lid and 2 To 3 inches of compost mixed with leaf litter and rotting wood (no pine as this can be toxic to many animals) should be fine. Millipedes can live communally. The tank should be twice as long, and at least as wide as the individual, or the largest millipede in the tank More decorative displays can be made by including large branches and rocks but live plants should be avoided as they will be eaten. A heat mat at on end of the enclosure should provide enough humidity and warmth for your millipede. Millipedes can be kept in colonies as long as there is enough room for them, height is not as important as floor space! The temperature gradient in the tank should range from 75 to 85° F, and the humidity should be maintained at 75 to 80%

Diet. African giant millipedes will eat a wide range of fruits, veg and rotting leaves. Adults and young alike, eat bananas, tomatoes, melons, romaine lettuce, apples, cucumbers, and other fruits and vegetables. Millipedes should have a supply of calcium and oak/bramble leaves/branches in their diet. A cuttlefish or calcium power should be provided as should a supply of oak leaves and bramble as these assist with exoskeleton growth and replacement and are also necessary for breeding your millipedes.Some other species of millipedes will only eat decaying wood but these tend to be ones for more specialist keepers/entomologists.