Do Giant Millipedes Make Good Pets?

If you’re interested in a unique, strange, and fascinating creature to keep safely in your home, yes giant millipedes can absolutely make great pets! These fascinating creatures are the gentle-giants of the arthropod world. Exotic and mysterious, yet easy to care for. Watching them stroll along the ground of their enclosure as their legs rhythmically undulate back and forth in a wave-like pattern can be mesmerizing.

Gray giant millipede facing straight ahead.

There are some things you should consider though before getting one. They don’t usually like to be handled too much (though moderate amounts are fine), don’t like bright light, and most species will spend a lot of their time hiding (especially during the day, as they tend to be most active at night).

These amazing animals come in a wide variety of species of varying sizes, patterns, coloring, and behaviors. From the striking Bumblebee and Ivory millipedes, to the enormous Giant African Millipede, each species offers something unique and interesting.

Some species are very cheap and readily available online. Others can be more expensive ($100 or more) and difficult to find. Giant African Millipedes in particular are very difficult to get in the US, due to a ban on importing them (because of agricultural concerns).

Are Giant Millipedes Dangerous?

No, they are not dangerous. Unlike centipedes, which can be extremely dangerous and aggressive, millipedes are neither. They are gentle, peaceful herbivores, simply interested in scavenging decaying leaf and plant matter from the forest floor.

Since they are not predators, they have no reason to threaten other creatures, and rely mainly on curling up into a defensive ball to protect themselves if needed.

Are Giant Millipedes Poisonous?

No, they are not poisonous or venomous. They can however produce a yellowish substance if they feel threatened enough. This substance can be mildly irritating, but isn’t considered to be actually dangerous (although you should definitely avoid getting it in your eyes). Some individuals may be more sensitive or allergic than others however, so exercising some caution at first would be wise.

If this substance gets on your skin, simply wash it off. If not washed off promptly, it can cause temporarily skin discoloration (yellowing) on the affected areas, but this will wear off after a few days or a week or so.

If a millipede curls up into a coil/ball, that means it is feeling threatened and is trying to protect itself. Do not handle or disturb it in this state! You will stress out and frighten it, and it may decide to release its defensive substance.

Do Giant Millipedes Bite?

No, giant millipedes do not bite. If you pick them up and let them crawl on your hands or arms, they may attempt to “nibble” the surface of your skin a little, but this won’t hurt or cause any injury.

Their mouths are far too soft to be able to actually bite through your skin, so they essentially are only capable of “gumming” you, for lack of a better way to put it (millipedes don’t actually have gums).

Giant millipede resting on a person's hand

It is perfectly safe to handle these creatures, and even let them crawl across your hand or arms (just be gentle!).

Compatibility with Other Creatures

Most species of giant millipedes require fairly similar conditions and won’t harm each other, so it’s probably safe to combine them in a single tank. Just be sure to check the preferred temperature range for each species, since some do like things more on the cooler or warmer side than others.

As far as other types of creatures though, you should be very careful. Your millipedes will probably be happiest just on their own, although there are a few animals you could consider.

The safest would be springtails. These very tiny creatures are hexapods, a group of arthropods related to insects. They are scavengers and can actually benefit your millipedes by helping to keep the tank clean and in overall good health. They feed on mold (and the droppings left by the millipedes), which will also help to keep harmful types of mites and other pests at bay.

It’s considered mostly safe to house them together with isopods. However, if you were hoping to breed your millipedes you should aware that isopods are reported to possibly eat millipede eggs and even small hatchlings. There is also some small possibility they may disturb a millipede while it’s molting.

Hissing cockroaches are supposedly safe as well, but make sure your substrate is extra deep if you add them in (otherwise, if they decide to burrow, they could disturb a millipede while it’s molting).

Any type of carnivorous creature such as spiders, scorpions, and centipedes should be strictly avoided, as well as probably all types of reptiles and amphibians.