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Heat Source for Giant Millipedes?

Discussion in 'Invertebrates General' started by smallgrayfox, Jan 27, 2008.

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  1. smallgrayfox

    smallgrayfox Contributing Member

    First, I'd like to say hello to everyone as I haven't posted here at HCN in a very long time. :)

    My daughter, who is almost 17, is planning to get two Giant Millipedes in the near future (providing she can find someone who sells them). We've been looking at caresheets on the internet, but they are chock full of conflicting information...most especially regarding the heat source. Many sites recommend a heat mat, either stuck to the back of the tank or placed halfway under the bottom of the tank. I'm not really comfortable with the heat mat idea as I've heard tales of them often being too hot and even burning various critters. I was wondering what millipede keepers on this forum might choose as their heat source and what recommendations they might have regarding the care and keeping of giant millipedes. Thank you for the help!
  2. kenman1963

    kenman1963 Moderator

    Hi Juliane, welcome back. Matt is the expert here on millipedes. If you decide to go with a heat mat just get a human heat pad from walmart. there much cheaper than the petstore type and they are adjustable.
  3. titus

    titus Elite Member Premium Member

    I would say if you don't cool your house to a lage degree you shouldn't need a heat mat for them. I keep several types of pedes with no extra heating. My reptile room is heated at 17C so that would be the lowest temps they recive in winter.

    If you do decide to use a heat mat I would place it on the back or side of the cage a good inch or two above the substrate level. They will most likely spend there time hiden under a hide or buried in the substrate keeping the mat above the substrate level will keep it from heating the substrate up to much and cooking her pedes.
  4. Colleen

    Colleen Elite Member

    I've keep them a few times and didn't use any heat source. They did great with just the room temperatures. I've been looking to get one or two myself, but the shipping is more than the Giant Millipedes. If you find a good source please share!
  5. DarkMagician207

    DarkMagician207 Elite Member

    yay Juliane! glad to see you posting again! good luck with the millipedes. hope you post pics when your daughter gets them. they're neat looking. :)
  6. furryscaly

    furryscaly Elite Member

    In the summer I don't use a heat source for my millipedes, but in the winter I use a heating pad under half the habitat, which is a large plastic Sterilite or RubberMaide sweater box. She does prefer the side with the heat it seems. I make sure the substrate is very moist, but not wet. Since there's no ventilation, the habitat doesn't loose moisture. I also keep a deep, but narrow water dish. The heat pad causes it to evaporate into the atmosphere of the enclosure, keeping it humid. I keep a piece of bark in the water so she can escape easily should she ever fall in, but the narrowness of the water also ensures she won't likely get stuck.

    My substrate is a mix of Bed-A-Beast and a soil/hardwood mulch I found in the gardening section Walmart. It's important that they can burrow through the substrate and that it retains moisture. As with any other pet, cedar and pine-based substrates should be avoided. Keep that in mind if you look for a similar mulch, as pine mulches are also available. Safe potting soil, plain Bed-A-Beast, and other similar alternatives can also be used.

    Pet store millipedes are generally only fed lettuce and fruits, but their diet is more complex than that. In the wild they feed very little on fresh fruits or vegetables. Their diet should consist of rotting hardwood, fungus, rotting leaves, leafy greens, and rotting fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be fed, but their mandibles are weak and they're built for eating fruit that's been laying around for a few days. Fungus doesn't appear to be very popular with this species, but they do like rotting leaves, as well as the fruits and veggies, especially cucumber. As far as rotting wood and leaves go, oak is best, but maple or other hardwood trees will do, just don't use evergreens. Be sure to give any collected leaves or wood a good rinse, and collect from chemical-free areas.

    Aside from that, provide a hide or two and make the substrate deep enough to burrow in, but be sure the hide won't collapse any tunnels that may be dug. They don't like light at all, so you needn't provide any. Also, don't worry about the mites they carry unless there's a LOT of them. They're scavenger mites and are normal. There's no good way to get rid of all of them anyway.

    There's not much difference between keeping adults vs juveniles. Younger ones have more of their lifespan to live though, of course. Adults are easier to keep alive than very very young ones. Adults are easier to sex and easier to find. Shows and expos are the best places to find them, aside from pet stores.

    Here's what my millipede habitat looks like:
  7. smallgrayfox

    smallgrayfox Contributing Member

    Thank you so much for the replies, everyone. :) And I sure appreciate all the specific information and the picture of your enclosure, Matt. Thank you! I'll show it to Maggie as soon as she gets home from school.

    I didn't know about the mites...:eek: but I guess that's not a problem if I can get over the hooky-jigs I feel about them...I do have a question about those...they don't transfer to other animals (or people), do they? I have gerbils, a dog, cat, and rabbit...I'd hate for them to get mites...:eek:

    Also, how often do you recommend changing the substrate completely? I've seen anywhere from once or twice a month to once or twice a year recommended in various places online...that's quite a difference of opinion.
  8. venus

    venus Founding Member

    Great to see you back Julianne!!!!! We missed ya.
  9. smallgrayfox

    smallgrayfox Contributing Member

    Thank you! I missed everyone here so much. :)
  10. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Welcome back Lady! Good to see you back on!
    Stick around a while!
    And good luck with the millipedes!
  11. smallgrayfox

    smallgrayfox Contributing Member

    Thank you so much :)
  12. furryscaly

    furryscaly Elite Member

    As long as you wash your hands after handling, I don't think you'll have to worry too much about mite transfer. The scavenger mites tend to stay on the millipede and transfer mainly during contact between two millipedes. They supposedly feed on debris between the millipede's legs.

    Here's some photos of scavenger mites:
    Flickr Photo Download: Mite on millipede 0024

    The less you change the substrate, the better. Since my substrate is mulch -based, the millipedes can also eat it. I also have decomposing leaves and wood mixed in with it. If the substrate starts getting old and decomposing, that's a good thing. This is especially true if you ever decide to breed the millipedes. Baby millipedes feed on the feces of the adults to gain gut bacteria that lets them digest wood. They're also really tiny, so cleaning the habitat is out of the question for breeders. Unless my substrate gets really gross or starts to look more like millipede poo than substrate, I don't change it.
  13. smallgrayfox

    smallgrayfox Contributing Member

    Wow...those look....interesting :eek: Thank you for the information. :)

    Here's something Maggie thought to wonder this afternoon...We sometimes have trouble with gnats in the house...have no idea where they come from, but it doesn't seem to be animal cages, although when we had a hamster they did like to congregate in his toilet. Yuck. They come in waves...we'll be gnat-free for a really long time and all of a sudden they're your face, your soup, the toilet, whatever. Must be one of the "perks" of living in the humid south. Anyway, we're wondering if we keep millipedes, will we be inviting an even huger gnat problem since they would then have access to a wonderful warm, moist, rotting breeding ground?
  14. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I would think that the 'pede enclosure would draw gnats like a magnet!
    I know they love the moist soil in potted plants!
  15. furryscaly

    furryscaly Elite Member

    There are many different small flies referred to as "gnats", but yes, fungus gnats could be a potential problem. If your habitat has an air-tight seal then that should lessen the risk. There's enough air in there to last a millipede long enough, they don't breathe the same way we do. Still, I know I've had a few problems with them in my invert enclosures before.
  16. smallgrayfox

    smallgrayfox Contributing Member

    An airtight seal, hmmm...hadn't thought of that. I'll tell Maggie about the idea. :) She's a little put off by idea of potentially increasing the gnat problem, especially since they'd be in her room specifically. You might have noticed in my other thread that she's now looking at White's Tree Frogs as a possibility too...It will be fun to see what she decides on. :)

    They sure do, and they're such a pain!
  17. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    A suggestion I ran across a while back was to take a bowl of apple cider vinegar and water and put 3-4 drops of dishsoap in it. Leave the bowl in an area wher you are having the problem. The vinegar is supposed to draw them in and the dishsoap breaks the surace tension of the liquid and the little buggers drown!
    Never tried it myself but it might be worth a shot.
    At least it isn't poison!
  18. smallgrayfox

    smallgrayfox Contributing Member

    This used to work really well actually. It's what we did when the problem first started. However, it seems that the gnats who actually liked the smell of the vinegar all eventually died in the traps, which left the ones who didn't like the vinegar free to live and breed. Now the gnats that come ignore the traps! So it appears that whether or not a gnat is attracted vinegar is a genetic characteristic! It's so bizarre. :p
  19. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Or it may be the type of insect. As Matt said, a lot of different bugs get pulled under the umbrella term of "Gnat"
  20. smallgrayfox

    smallgrayfox Contributing Member

    Very true! Since they're so darned tiny, it's impossible to tell them apart, I guess. :)
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