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9 Cool Facts & Care Tips for Florida Millipedes

Learn nine cool facts about Florida Millipedes and how to take care of them from Jungle Bob in this Howcast video.

Transcript

My favorite arachnid out there, as far as a pet animal for someone has to be a millipede. Another confusing animal to people because the name, millipede, sounds like it should be a thousand legged animal. But there's no such thing. Again, it's just scientists trying to say that it has a lot.They range anywhere from 40 pairs of legs up to a couple hundred, but no animal has a thousand legs.

Millipedes are all over the planet. There's probably, I think close to 10,000 species of millipedes in the world. And every single one of them is harmless. Unlike their cousins, the centipedes which have a venomous bite, millipedes are completely benign. They don't have any mouth parts that can bite.

They're interesting little terrarium subjects. Because look at how that little thing moves. He's got segments of his body. Every time he molts he gets a new segment. And there's two pairs of legs, unlike centipedes which have one. Two pairs of legs per section. He multigrows another one. When you get down to like the seventh section or so you can actually see if it's a male or a female centipede, but that doesn't really matter if you're keeping it as a pet.

Simple animal. You know animals that eat plants are called herbivores. But animals that eat rotting vegetation, like millipedes, are called detrivores. They actually eat, come back here, they eat the detritus and left matter in any kind of a forest, any kind of a scrubland. There's a wide variety of habitats they come from and a wide variety of vegetation they eat. This is the animal that turns the plant matter on the forest soil into earth. Turns it into peat moss. Turns it into, it breaks it down. And it's used in so many other ways once it does.

How's he do that? It goes through his digestive system. He's constantly munching rotting leaves. And as fast as they go in one side they come out the other. Just like an earthworm. And that's how it makes the soil which it inhabits. You see him cruising around there, you can get the osculation on his legs, they move in beautiful harmony with each other.

The largest species, which is sometimes found in the pet world, is the African millipede, which actually grows to over ten inches. This little bugger here is from Florida, the Florida millipede. And he gets a little bit bigger than this but not much.

And he makes, again, an interesting, simple to care for pet you can have in your house that's kind of a conversation piece. Because when you take him out most people are either afraid of it or have no idea what they're looking at. His defensive mechanism is to jump off the log, no. His defensive mechanism is to curl up, much like those little pill bugs you saw when you were a kid. They'll wrap up really tight. His body is an exoskeleton so it's hard on the outside, and a predator would have a hard time biting through. Most predators have a strong enough jaw so it will get there so he has one more defensive thing that he knows how to do.

And that is his defecation sometimes has toxicity to it. And some of the millipedes, actually small amounts of cyanide poison. So if you bite the millipede on the wrong end, you're going to get a mouthful of bad business. And because that's his only way of defending himself he's evolved to really for his head and his buttocks to look exactly the same. This way an animal could easily make a mistake. If you grab his head the millipede is gone. If you grab his back end he's going to live to see another day.

So a really interesting creature that's all around us. It's under our feet. It's every log you turn over where you live, you'll probably find a millipede of some variety. And as a pet, wow, it makes a really interesting, easy to care for item.

The millipede. 10,000 species strong and counting, as we're still finding more of them.

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