Species of Giant Millipede

Our planet has an incredible variety of different types of millipedes. They can vary wildly in size and color, so you have a lot of options to consider if you want to keep one as a pet. According to MilliBase (a website dedicated to cataloging every single millipede species on earth), there are a total of over 12,000 different species of millipede worldwide. Among these, there are numerous species that are considered “giant millipedes” and kept as pets. Here you will find an overview of some of the species that people most commonly like to keep as pets.

Be aware that if you live in North America, your options may be somewhat more limited. Since the import of all non-native millipedes is illegal in both the US and Canada, native species are much more readily available (and affordable) as pets.

In the US, non-native species can only legally be obtained from breeders who imported them before the import ban went into effect, making them more difficult (and generally more costly) to acquire.

In Canada, all non-native species are completely illegal to own or sell, even from domestic breeders (native species are fine though).

Species of Millipede Native to North America

There are several different interesting and beautiful species of giant millipede native to North America that are commonly available as pets.

American Giant Millipede

Narceus americanus
Max Length: 4 inches
Average Lifespan: 2 to 3 years
Coloration: Gray to Brown
Native to: Eastern and Midwest US and Canada

An American Giant Millipede coiled up

The most widespread giant millipede in North America. Not only is this species native to the US, but it’s also one of the few native to Canada as well.

Smokey Oak Millipede

Narceus gordanus
Max Length: 4 inches
Coloration: Dark Gray
Native to: Southeastern US

This is the largest millipede by girth native to North America. It tends to spend a lot of its time burrowing under the substrate, so is likely to be less visible in an enclosure than most other species.

Ivory Millipede

Chicobolus spinigerus
Max Length: 4 inches
Average Lifespan: 5 to 10 years
Coloration: Black and White stripes
Native to: Florida to South Carolina

This species has a beautiful black and ivory-white banded pattern, and is beloved by beginners and experts alike! They are one of the easiest to keep and care for, making them a great first choice for people new to millipedes. Those who are more experienced love them too though, since this is one of the most surface-active species (meaning they like to spend a lot of time walking around on top of the substrate in plain view, rather than digging down into the substrate where you might not be able to see them).

Bumble Bee Millipede

Anadenobolus monilicornis
Max Length: 4 inches
Average Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
Coloration: Black and Yellow stripes
Native to: South America (but naturalized to the southern US)

Bumble Bee Millipede on the side of the road

This species sports a striking, vibrant yellow and black banded pattern. This species is not actually native to the US, but has become naturalized after it was accidentally introduced into the environment on ornamental plants from South America.

Sonoran Desert Millipede

Orthoporus ornatus
Max Length: 7 inches
Average Lifespan: 10 years
Coloration: Dark Brown to Yellow
Native to: Sonoran Desert of western US and Mexico

A desert millipede coiled up on the sand

Unlike most other giant millipedes, this one’s natural habitat is the desert, instead of the forest floor. Because of this, it does better in lower humidity conditions than most other species. It is capable of growing to a longer length than any other species native to North America.

Florida Scrub Millipede

Floridobolus floydi
Max Length: 3 inches
Coloration: Gray to Olive
Native to: Florida

A much less commonly seen species, but a unique one. Its body has an unusual oval-like cross section, rather than being cylindrical like most other species.

African Millipedes

Africa is home to the very largest millipedes on the planet. The largest of these creatures can reach truly impressive sizes of over a foot in length! Due to their incredible size, some of these used to be among the most popular millipedes to keep as pets in the US, but have since become more scarce due to the import ban.

African Giant Black Millipede (AGB)

Archispirostreptus gigas
Max Length: 15 inches
Average Lifespan: 5 to 7 years
Coloration: Black or Dark Brown
Native to: East Africa

An african giant millipede sitting on some rocks

The largest living species of millipede anywhere on earth. It can grow to an incredible 15 inches long. Because of this, it’s probably the most well known of all the giant millipedes, and one of the most sought after. This species usually has symbiotic mites living on its exoskeleton which help keep its large body clean. Generally considered among the most difficult species to breed in captivity.

Giant African Millipede

Spiropoeus fischeri (formally called Mardonius parilis acuticonus)
Max Length: 8 inches
Average Lifespan: 5 to 7 years
Coloration: Black or Dark Brown
Native to: Africa

Very similar to the AGB (Archispirostreptus gigas), but grows to a shorter maximum length. Many people prefer this species as a pet though because it’s legs are softer, making it easier and more comfortable to handle and hold. It is also possibly more active. Like the AGB, is also usually found with symbiotic mites.

Ghana Chocolate Millipede

Ophistreptus guineensis
Max Length: 10 inches
Coloration: Brown
Native to: Ghana and Nigeria

Another very large African variety. Similar to its other giant African cousins, but with a different, lighter brown color. It somewhat resembles the color of chocolate, which is where it gets its name.

Asian Millipedes

Asia has an array of fascinating and vibrantly colored giant millipedes hailing from various rainforest and jungle environments. Like with the African species, some of these may prove difficult to acquire in the US because of the import restrictions.

Flame Leg Millipede

Trigoniulus macropygus
Max Length: 4 inches
Average Lifespan: 2 to 3 years
Coloration: Dark Black and Red body with Yellow legs
Native to: Philippines

Very visually striking, this species has bright yellow legs. These vibrantly colored legs can look somewhat like a row of delicate, dancing flames as it walks, due to the undulating, wave-like motion that millipedes move their legs in.

Thai Rainbow Millipede

Apeuthes spp
Max Length: 4 inches
Average Lifespan: 5 to 7 years
Coloration: Blue-Gray stripes with Red legs
Native to: Southeast Asia

This species has very unique and interesting coloration. They breed more easily in captivity than the very similar and closely related Vietnamese Rainbow Millipede (Tonkinbolus dollfusi), making them easier to acquire as pets.

Scarlet Millipede

Trigoniulus corallinus
Max Length: 2 to 3 inches
Average Lifespan: 4 to 6 years
Coloration: Rusty Red
Native to: Malaysia and Indonesia

Close-up o bright Red Millipede curled in a ball

While on the smaller side, this species has a beautiful rusty red color that can almost have a “metallic” look to it.