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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Commonly-Kept Millipedes

Commonly-Kept Millipedes

North American millipede (Narceus americanus) -- This very common millipede is found in damp woodlands throughout the eastern part of the United States. It is dark reddish brown in color, with narrow red bands at the margins of each segment. The total length is around four inches.

African giant millipede (Archispirostreptus sp) -- This is a general name for a number of large black millipedes from various areas of Africa. Many times, these animals cannot even be identified in the proper genus---many of the "African millipedes" found in pet shops may be members of the genus Spirostreptus. Nevertheless, these huge diplopods are readily available in the pet trade. They can reach lengths of over a foot, and can be as much as an inch in diameter. Despite the forbidding appearance, all of them are completely harmless and relatively easy to care for.

Fire Millipede (Aphistogoniulus sp) -- This brightly colored millipede is found in Madagascar. They are bright red with black stripes, and reach a total length of around four inches. Fire millipedes inhabit the damp floor of the Madagascar rainforests.

Desert millipede (Orthoporus sp) -- A general name for a number of large often brightly colored millipedes from the American southwest. They range in size from four to six inches, and vary in color from a dark brown to a light tan or orange, and are sometimes sold under the names "Sonoran desert millipede" or "giant North American millipede". Although they are found in dry desert areas, they live exclusively in damp humid microhabitats, and can be kept in the same captive conditions as other millipedes.

Yellow Spotted Millipede (Harpaphe haydeniana) -- Another brightly colored millipede, from the Pacific Northwest in the United States. It reaches about three inches in length. As the name suggests, this species is glossy black with a series of vivid yellow spots along the sides. The bold colors are a warning, for this millipede can defend itself with a puff of hydrogen cyanide that can poison a potential insectivore predator (although the amount of cyanide produced is not enough to affect a human). It is not known how the millipede prevents itself from being poisoned by its own defensive cloud.

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