What Is Wrong With My Millipede?


Your millipede might be exhibiting some behaviors that you feel are strange or out of character and as such you are looking to find out what is going on. For example, you might have a question about why your millipede curls up sometimes, or whether it can sting or bite as it is showing such tendencies.

As you well know, millipedes are fascinating creatures that have their own characteristics and behaviors, which are pretty common among all millipedes. Sometimes though, certain behaviors might indicate a problem so it is good to know as much as you can about why your milliped is doing certain things.

Why Do Millipedes Curl Up?

MillipedesOpens in a new tab. can often be seen curled up into a coil like shape; many millipede owners, but especially newbie owners, wonder why they do this. Is it a way to keep warm or comfortable, or is there a different reason?

Well, the reason they do this is simple enough: millipedes will curl up in a spiral shape when they feel threatened. While the top part of a millipede is covered in a hard shell – or plates that are called tergits – the underside of their body is soft and vulnerable to attack. Therefore, millipedes curl up this way to protect their soft body parts from attack. This leads nicely on to the next question.

Do Millipedes Sting?

If you are new to millipedes, or indeed are considering getting one, one of the questions you might have is if they bite or sting. Millipedes do not have fangs, pinchers, or stingers to use against predators, nor are they particularly fast. This is why their main defense mechanism is to curl up into a protective coil. This means that you can rest assured that they will do not bite or sting you when handled.

These docile creatures also have another way to defend themselves. They release a foul-smelling chemical that works to deter would-be predators. Some millipedes may also do this when handled by humans, especially if feeling threatened at the time. Be aware that these chemicals can cause blisters or burns to the skin, so it is important that your hands and arms are always covered when handling a millipede.

Why Wont’ My Millipede Eat?

While curling up and releasing chemicals are natural defense behaviors for millipedes, you might become concerned if yours is acting in a manner that does not seem entirely normal. For example, what should you do if the millipede will not eat?

Millipedes are nocturnal creatures, meaning that they are most active at night. This is also when they tend to eat. However, you might have noticed that your millipede has stopped eating, with food you have provided remaining untouched. There are a couple of reasons this might be happening.

If your millipede is hiding out and not eating, it may be that it is preparing to molt. Millipedes tend to lose their appetite in the days or even weeks prior to molting.

The other reason may be that your millipede is ill and possibly dying. The only thing you can do is wait to see what happens because disturbing a molting millipede could end up being detrimental.

Why Is My Millipede Not Moving?

A millipede that is not moving could also be a sign of an imminent molt, but it could also be an indication that something is not quite right.

When millipedes are in the molting stage, they tend to become quite stationary and do not eat. You may notice that your millipede is wriggling like a snake and not using its feet – or is simply not moving at all. During the process, the creatures will pump blood around their body, which will then swell to allow the exoskeleton to crack. You might notice that you millipede looks fatter than normal and that its exoskeleton looks stretched and lighter in color than is usual.

Once the exoskeleton has been shed, the millipede will be ready to eat again and will start moving about once more. Most millipedes eat their own shed skin, which, although sounding disgusting to us, allows them to replenish calcium lost during molting.

Why Did My Millipede Die?

A millipede that is not eating or moving may not be molting; instead, it may be dying. If this is the case, it is natural for you to wonder why this has happened and whether or not it was the result of something that you did or did not do.

Millipedes are quite sensitive to their surrounding environment and one that is too dry can quickly cause death. It is therefore crucial that you ensure your enclosure is humid and that your millipede is getting enough hydration. The ideal environment for millipedes includes substrate that is moist at the bottom but drier at the top.

Another issue that could have caused the death of your millipede is mites. Mites can live in dried food or on leaf litter and when placed into a moist enclosure, the population can boom. These mites may then feed on the body fluids of the millipede or block their spiracles, making it impossible for them to breathe. To prevent this problem from reoccurring, you should introduce predatory mites which will then attack the other mites. You can buy predatory mites such as Hypoaspis miles online, which can then be introduced into the affected enclosure. These will feed on the other mites. Be aware though that during this period you should cut back on feeding quite drastically as these nuisance mites can return and start thriving on any food that has not been removed from the enclosure.

Sagmatostreptus strongylopygus
Sagmatostreptus strongylopygus

Have a look at your setup as well to ensure you are not using anything that could be causing dehydration. Some individuals use heat pads underneath the enclosure to provide artificial heat, but this is usually not necessary. It is important to ensure conditions are perfect so that the health and wellbeing of your millipede are maintained.

This means substrate that is not too dry or too wet. You should also make sure the enclosure is not placed in direct sunlight. Look for a dimly lit area of your home. The temperature should be kept between 60F and 78F while humidity levels should be between 78 and 80 percent.

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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!

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