Beginners guild to keeping millipedes
Basic care and set up -
To start with, find the maximum length your millipede species will grow too. The tank needs to be at least 3x the length of the millipede in length and 2x the length of the millipede in width.
For smaller species, 10cm of a good soil mix is required; increasing to 20+cm for larger species. If more than 1 millipede is kept in your tank increase these dimensions by around 5cm for each millipede.
The soil mix should contain humus which is found under the top layer of leaves in a forest. It's best from underneath oak trees but also beech, not pine trees!
Mix rotting pieces of wood from oak trees into the hummus, this wood should be able to crumble in your hands.
I find it helps to also mix in bird grit and limestone, these should make up around 10% of your mix.
When placing the mixture into the tank compact the bottom 5cm and make sure the top 5cm of the mixture is quite loose.
On top of your mixture, place a layer of old leaves (brown ones) and some more rotting wood.
I also add moss from my local forest, half a plant pot and some bark, giving the tank some colour and somewhere for the millipedes to hide.
Most species require high humidity, this cannot be achieved by spraying the top layer of the tank, so you should pour small amounts of rainwater down the side of the tank into your mixture. I tend to only pour water at one end of the tank, creating a damp end and a dry end. This gives your millipedes the option to choose where it’s most comfortable.
Most species are comfortable at room temperature (24C) but some require more heat to breed.
A heat mat stuck along the back of the tank is the best way to achieve this temperature that I have found. It should never be underneath as this will dry the soil too quickly.
I tend to use a heating wire as I can place it in the middle, along the back of the tank so the bottom will stay humid.
Millipedes will eat most fruit and vegetables but they will mostly eat the rotten leaves.
I also give them eggs shells for calcium.
My millipedes love courgettes, oranges, strawberries and bananas.
I also give them fresh leaves from raspberry and bramble plants.
Fish flakes and moisty bakery dog biscuits work well as treats.
Avoid any member of the onion family, pine leaves, pieces of pine wood, chocolate, bread and anything with salt or unnatural sugar on or in it.
My millipedes appear to like the lights they have in their tanks as it provides them with a day/night cycle. Interestingly, I find more millipedes come out in the day if their tank contains an active light than if it does not.
Other things to think about -
Millipedes enjoy climbing so branches and fake leaves will be used extensively.
But be warned they can climb very well on the sealant used at the edges of most tanks and enjoy pushing open the lid used to contain them, so have a heavyweight or some type of lock as they will manage to escape otherwise.
Never dig in your millipede tank to try and find one in the dirt, it could be moulting and if they are moved it can and probably will hurt them.
Sometimes they curl up on top to moult, so if one doesn’t move for a couple of days do not pick it up.
Common questions -
Can I keep different species together?
Yes, as long as they are of similar size and require the same humidity/temperature.
Why can't I see my millipede?
Millipedes are mainly nocturnal and so will not come out very often when its day or when noisy. So TV noise, radio, etc will play a part whether they come out or not.
Also, some species tend to live more underground than others so it might just be a characteristic of your species.
What is a good starter millipede?
Most millipedes are simple to keep, so any species your interested in. However, the flat millipede is harder to keep so if just starting I would recommend avoiding those.
Can I keep millipedes with anything else?
Yes, beetles, roaches and isopods. Just make sure to pick ones that have the same humidity and temperature requirements.