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  Entomology Department > Insect Zoo > Care Sheets

Caring for Your Millipede

1. Choose any kind of container that can be securely closed and has a few small air holes. Millipedes are fair climbers and quite strong and will open lids that are not securely attached (we tape ours down). It is also important that the lid has few enough holes to maintain the moisture level of the bedding. Fill the container about one half full of moist sphagnum moss. To get the proper level of moisture for the bedding you should soak the moss in water and then squeeze it into a ball. This should remove all the excess water. If the moss is dripping or there is standing water in the tank it is too moist. Separate and fluff up the moss when you put it into the tank. The bedding should be changed about every 2 - 3 weeks or sooner if it begins to mold, gets mite infested or water begins to pool up on the bottom of the cage. If the tank gets too dry (dryer then when you originally put it in) you should mist it to increase the moisture level.

2. Millipedes are decomposers. This means they assist with the decomposition of dead plant matter. In the wild, they eat dead and rotting plant matter. In your cage they would like to do the same. Feed them any fresh fruit or vegetables that have started to go soft. Try to give them a variety of fruits & vegetables to choose from and you can soon find out what are their favorites. Avoid feeding them solely on Iceberg lettuce as it has little to no nutritional value. Food should be replaced if it gets too moldy, or covered in mites or maggots. To make clean-up easier you can put the food in a jar. Make sure the jar is tilted with the open end facing down. If the jar is upright, the millipede could drown in the plant juices in the bottom of the jar. We feed our millipedes mainly good lettuce greens, cucumber, squash, pumpkin, green pepper, etc. We tend to avoid fruit because it attracts fruit flies--although with only a couple millipedes, it should be fine.

3. Millipedes love to burrow. You want to make sure that they have a tank that is as large as possible and that it is filled about one half full with the moist sphagnum.

4. Your Millipede will sometimes shed its exoskeleton. When it does, the Millipede will look white and will be in a very fragile state. Please do not handle it until it has returned to its natural color.

5. Otherwise, don't hesitate to handle your new pet. They love to climb and crawl! Keep an eye on it anytime it is out of its cage. Good luck!

© 2004 Iowa State University Entomology Department. Last modified 3/15/04 by John VanDyk.