How to Make Millipede Substrate

Flat Millipede

Written by Anthony

I am a content creator by profession but exotic animals are one of my great passions in life. Over the course of my adulthood, I have had the pleasure of looking after stick insects, terrapins, an Egyptian tortoise, giant African land snails, a crested gecko, a Chilean rose tarantula, a couple of curly-haired tarantulas, and a selection of millipedes, centipedes and worms!

Last Updated on October 28, 2020

As burrowing creatures, millipedes in captivity will require conditions that are similar to their natural habitats. This includes a suitable substrate. In fact, not only do millipedes love to burrow in substrate, but they also actually eat this material too. What this means for the health and wellbeing of your millipede is that substrate is one of the most important considerations when choosing your setup.

What is the Best Substrate for Millipedes?

For millipedes to thrive, substrate should be moist and airy. If it is too dry then your millipede could become dehydrated, but if it is too wet then it could become susceptible to fungi and bacteria. Despite what many millipede owners believe, nutrient-rich substrate is not the best choice for millipedes, particularly those species that may be more sensitive such as Trigoniulus macropygus or Chicobolus spinigerus. For these particular types of millipedes, the choice of substrate is critical to their survival.

What Type of Substrate Should You Use?

The best type of substrate is one that consists of a mix of leaves, wood, and soil. It is important to ensure that whatever mix you do end up choosing is free from pests. There are those that like to mix coconut fiber or coir with hardwood leaves and crumbly hardwood; others prefer to use a mix of soil or compost with dry leaf litter, sand, and deadwood. Sand is added to prevent the substrate from compacting too much.

Be aware that not all leaves and wood are suitable for millipede substrates. The best choice by far is oak in terms of leaves and wood. However, when you do use leaves, you must make sure that they are dry and never freshly picked or fallen. Softwoods such as pine should be avoided as these contain resins that could be harmful for your millipede.

How Much Substrate Do You Need?

There are those that insist that as a rule of thumb your substrate should be as deep as your longest millipede, but four to six inches really should be sufficient. A bigger concern is ensuring that the substrate is kept moist – but not too moist. Keeping it moist at the bottom but drier towards the top will make for the ideal substrate.

Nutrition and Hydration

While millipedes get their food and water from substrate, you should also provide fresh food such as fruit and vegetables as well as protein occasionally (dried cat food is a good option). Food should be placed on top of the substrate and anything that has not been eaten should be removed before it begins to mold. This will ensure that your millipede gets the right amount of nutrients and hydration.

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