Many species of giant millipedes are relatively easy to breed, while a few can be quite tricky. For most species though, as long as you have a male and female millipede housed in an enclosure with the appropriate humidity and temperature levels, and a sufficiently deep substrate, they will likely reproduce on their own eventually and you’ll end up with baby millipedes.
The easiest species to breed will probably be the Ivory Millipede or the Bumble Bee Millipede. The African Giant Millipedes on the other hand, are generally considered among the most difficult to breed. Unlike many other species, who reproduce multiple times throughout the year, the African Giants only reproduce once a year, and they seem to be much pickier about having specific, optimum conditions.
Telling a male millipede from a female millipede can be kind of difficult at first, because they look very similar to each other. In many species, the females will be somewhat larger than the males, but the easiest way to distinguish between them is to look for the presence of gonopods.
Gonopods are reproductive organs that only males posses. These are found on the underside of the animal’s body, generally on their seventh segment for most species. They will be small stump-like structures that are located in place of where the legs of that segment would normally be. If you see these gonopods, it’s a male.
The males of some species however have gonopods that are not externally visible. In these cases, you won’t actually see the gonopods, but you will still be able to see that the legs of that segment are missing (since the gonopods replace the legs on that segment, regardless of whether they are externally visible or not). If the legs are missing, then it’s a male.
If you don’t see any gonopods, and all of the legs are present on each segment, then you can safely assume that it’s a female.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get a good enough look at the underside of a millipede to be able to determine it’s gender. A way to make this easier it to place the millipede in a small, empty, clear plastic container, and then view it from underneath. This way, you should be able to closely examine the creature’s underside for an extended period of time without causing it unnecessary amounts of stress.
Giant Millipede Mating
If you have a female and male millipede, both of reproductive age, and housed in a tank with normal, proper conditions, they will likely mate all on their own eventually with no further special consideration needed. When they decide to mate, the male will wrap his body around the female’s, and initiate the mating process.
Giant Millipede Eggs
When a female millipede is ready to lay her eggs (which could be a couple weeks after mating), she will typically burrow into the substrate and carve out a little chamber to safely house them in.
This is why it’s important to have a substrate that is deep enough (about as deep as your longest millipede’s length). Otherwise, she may have a tough time choosing a safe, suitable spot for her egg chamber.
Different species of millipede can lay vastly different numbers of eggs. Some lay as few as a couple dozen, while others may lay hundreds at a time. There are even some species that lay only a single egg at a time.
Once laid, the eggs may take a while to hatch. You shouldn’t be surprised if it takes several months. Make sure not to disturb them at any time during this period, as they can be quite fragile.
The mother may stay close by to the eggs to guard them after they’ve been laid. Once they hatch however, her job is done and the newborn millipedes will be on their own.
After the eggs hatch, you’ll have a lot of tiny little millipede babies crawling about. When they first hatch, they generally only have a few pairs of legs and might not look very much like millipedes. Refrain from trying to pick them up or handle them until they get a little bigger, since they will be very delicate at this early stage of their life.
As long as conditions in the tank are appropriate, they should grow and mature into healthy adults, molting several times in the process. Do not under any circumstances disturb a millipede while it’s molting, since they are very easily injured while in this state.
Eventually, the juvenile millipedes will grow up and reach breeding age themselves. Depending on the species, this may take a couple of years. Most species of giant millipedes have a lifespan of at least several years, but some can live as long as ten years or more.
Enclosures with Holes or Gaps
One important consideration is to make sure your enclosure doesn’t have any small holes, slits, or gaps in it. While an adult giant millipede might not be able to fit through these types of very small openings, the baby ones very likely could. If your tank does have these kinds of openings, be sure to secure them by covering them with a fine mesh screen prior to any eggs hatching.
Isopods May Eat Baby Millipedes
If you are hoping to end up with baby millipedes, it’s highly recommended not to keep your millipedes in the same tank with any specie of isopod (or pretty much any other type of creature for that matter). Some keepers of giant millipedes like to house them in the same enclosure with isopods, but this can be problematic if you’re hoping for babies, since the isopods may eat them or the eggs.