Creepy Crawly Spotlight – Giant African Millipede
This is the first in a series of articles that explore the creepy, crawly and downright scary animals that people are often afraid off.
Giant African Millipedes are, as the name implies found in the rainforests of Africa. They are the largest species of millipede and can grow to be almost a foot long. Their name is inaccurate though as they don’t actually have a thousand legs. They can have up to 400 legs, four per segment of the body.
Millipedes are detritivores, which means they eat decaying plant matter. This makes them an important part of the ecosystem since they break down dead stuff into smaller particles that will then form good healthy soil for new things to grow. They also help loosen the bark off of trees and leave room for other smaller bugs to get in.
Some people keep Giant Millipedes as pets, however, they’re not really all that exciting and they do release a liquid form of cyanide.
Yes, I said, cyanide. When they feel threatened, these millipedes release a fluid that consists of hydrogen cyanide which acts as an irritant to predators and makes the millipede taste bad. It can be harmful to humans if large concentrations of the substance is encountered. If you ever do handle a millipede just wash your hands immediately after and never put them near your eyes or mouth. You should also avoid eating them if you’re ever trapped in an African rainforest.
Overall, the Giant African Millipede is a misunderstood guy. He plays an important role in breaking down dead plants and overall he just wants to be left alone with his rotting leaves.