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Scientific Classification
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Taiwan Millipede

Millipedes are very unusual animals with one hundred to three hundred legs, which generally live in wood areas. They have many segments on their body with most of them holding two pair of legs. Unlike the centipede, they are scavengers (detritivores) and very slow moving. They eat decaying and many dead things in the forest which help to break all of the matter down. Millipedes range from two millimeters to three hundred millimeters with the African giant millipede being one of the largest species alive. They are arthropods and there over ten thousand species in the class.




The Millipedes anatomy consists of the exoskeleton, segments, the legs, the eyes, and the Metathoracic glands.

Exoskeleton: Millipedes do not have an internal skeleton. Instead they have an exoskeleton that consists of three different layers. The first inner layer is made up of the epidermis. The middle layer is made up of soft, flexible chitin. Because of the chitin, it can absorb impacts made by other animals. The last final layer is also made of chitin but has been stiffened and hardened to protect itself from other enemies. The exoskeleton never grows because it is dead. Once the millipede gets older it will shed it's skin for a new one. During the molting period a millipede is very vulnerable to predators so it will usually find a safe place where it can shed its old skin. Usually after the millipede sheds it old skin it will eat it. [1]

Segments: The millipede body has two main sections that have many segments; an anterior head region and a long segmented trunk. The trunk section of the body mainly carried the two pairs of legs. The first ring after the head is legless but the three segments after that only have one pair of legs because they carry the sexual organs. The pre-anal rings located at the end of the body are always legless. The rest of the segments have two pairs of legs. [2]

Legs: Millipedes have very many legs in fact the average amount is usually around four hundred. Unfortunately even with their many legs they can't go very fast. Whenever millipedes walk each pair of legs segments are lifted up at the same exact time. The pairs on the other side moves in opposite motion which is what gives it that ripple looking affect. [3]

Eyes: Millipedes have very simple looking eyes. They don't have very good eyesight. They can see light and dark but most images are blurry to them which make them practically blind. They are nocturnal animals so their sight does not have to be in the best condition. They use instead, there other senses to keep them keen and aware at night.

Metathoracic glands: Almost all millipede species have glands that will warn off predators. Some millipedes can produce tiny gas clouds of hydrogen cyanide, which is very poisonous to there predators but does no harm to humans. However there are a couple species that their glands contain chemicals that could give blisters to humans and seriously hurt them if gotten in the nose, or eyes, or an open wound. [4]


Two Millipedes Mating

There are several different ways that millipedes will mate. But before they start, the male has to get his secondary sexual organ and primary sexual organ ready. In order to do this he has to curl his body so the Gonopores (which contain the spermatorphores, which is the sperm package [5]) can be transferred to the Gonopods so he can mate. Some males will attract their mates with a squeaking noise they make with their feet [6] Millipedes will court by having the male walk along the females back while stimulating her. He will then intertwine with her and that is when he passes the spermatophores to her spermathecae.[7] Another way that millipedes can mate is the male will leave his spermatophores on the ground uncovered and the female will then find it and store it with her spermathecae. Some species of the millipedes don't even have to mate they are parthenogenetic; which means they are able to produce offspring without the mating process. Another way they can mate is the male will spin a web and put his sperm packet into the web then the female will come by and store it in her spermathecaem which is similar to the other mating process. The females will then lay her eggs in the ground; laying around 200 eggs. Once they hatch they will live up to seven years. [8]


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Most millipedes live in woodsy type areas. They love to live under bark or dead trees sometimes they'll burrow under the soil or in a patch of leaves. Millipedes usually eat dead leaves and wood and other decaying things. [9] millipedes can be very helpful to the environment if they do not over populate. In some of the tropical regions they are more important to the environment then worms are. What they do is eat the dead and decaying things so it breaks it down where it’s better for our environment. Millipedes do hibernate in the winter though. [10] They may be harmful sometimes if they eat living plants which they do sometimes they can. [11] Some of the enemies the millipedes have to face include; birds, badgers, shrewd, and beetles. To protect themselves they can release the chemicals in their glands to ward off their predators and if that doesn’t work they will curl up in a little ball so their enemies can't reach them. [12]

Millipede Pets

There are two main species that are sold at pet stores for breeding and for pet use are; the African giant millipede and the giant millipede. The adult size for these is usually around ten inches. [13] Many people buy many of these millipedes to breed them. Usually if the millipede is happy and comfortable it will breed naturally and many times. The exotic pet is very different but still not completely safe because if it does spray you, you have to go wash your hand immediately. It could be very dangerous if got into the mouth or eyes. They are very easy pets to take care of with their habitat being pretty much dirt and bark, and with them eating only decayed scraps. Many people enjoy having them in their homes. [14]


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