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Ivory Millipedes (Chicobolus spinigerus) - Juveniles (2-3cm)

Ivory Millipedes (Chicobolus spinigerus) - Juveniles (2-3cm)

 

Chicobolus spinigerus are a medium sized species of millipede native to the south-eastern United States, occurring throughout the Florida Peninsula and Panhandle, as well as southern Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. These millipedes are commonly known as Florida ivory or zebra millipedes due to their cream and dark brown/black stripes and dark brown legs. Adult males can reach a length of 7-8cm, whilst females are slightly larger at 9-10cm. As babies, these are very small, white-translucent in colour, and only have 3 pairs of legs! The babies develop their colouration and other pairs of legs as they molt, and will eat some of the parents feacal pellets to improve their own gut biomes. This species is one of the fastest growing, reaching maturity at just 18 months old, and adults can live up to 10 years with the correct care!

 

Both male and females are monomorphic, meaning they look the same, but can easily be sexed when they are a third of their adult size, by observing the underside of the seventh body segment. Females will have two pairs of legs on every body segment, but males will have small stump-like appendages called gonopods instead of a pair of legs. Adult males will also be slightly smaller and slender than females and have a ‘saddle’ on the body above the seventh segment. Adults will breed easily with the correct care and if successful, the female will lay a clutch of eggs incapsulated in feacal matter in the substrate that will hatch in as little as a month!

 

Like other millipedes when threatened, they will curl themselves up where the head, underside, and legs are protected by the hard exoskeleton, and can excrete a yellow toxic substance containing cyanide that can be an irritant to sensitive skin, so always wash your hands before and after handling. Only handle these millipedes if they are already above ground and let them walk onto your hand, NEVER pull the millipede off a surface or search through the substrate! Disturbing a millipede whilst molting can damage them and be potentially fatal.  

 

Ivory millipedes are arobreal and will spend a lot of time above ground, sleeping in foliage, climbing on branches and exploring their tank! These are possibly one of our most active species that we keep and are only ever hidden away when molting, so it is crucial to have both a deep enough substrate and at least 10-15cm of climbing space. These do well in ventilated storage tubs or converted aquariums so long as they have plenty of space!

 

  • Adult size: males up to 8cm, females up to 10cm 
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years 
  • Status: captive bred  
  • Place of Origin: Florida Peninsula and Panhandle, as well as southern Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. 
  • Temperature: 22-27˚C 
  • Humidity: 70-80% 
  • Diet: Hardwood leaf litter (oak, beech, hazel etc), rotten hardwood, organic compost/ topsoil, flake soil, sphagnum moss, lichen, mushrooms, variety of fruit and vegetables (favourites include cucumber, squash, apple, and pear), sepia/ calcium supplement (optional), protein source (fish flakes, shrimp pellets, nutritional yeast)  

 

  • We keep C. spinigerus in a 60X40X60cm tank which is a converted aquarium with mesh covering any escape points, at 22˚C and 80% humidity. 

 

  • We suggest keeping the substrate moist (not soaking!) by misting when the top layer of substrate is dry, and provide plenty of cork bark or natural bark pieces, leaf litter, moss, and hardwood branches with lichen. These millipedes are arobreal and will spend a lot of time above ground, so provide lots of climbing opportunities!

 

  • We house our millipedes with springtails  in a 60x40x60cm tank, which holds a deep layer of substrate and provides enough floor space for all inhabitants. You want to house any millipede with a substrate that is at least the same length as the largest millipede in depth, and twice the millipedes length in floor space. We always double this just to make sure every millipede has plenty of space, as they do spend a lot of time under the ground! Remember that is just for substrate, and you will need an extra 10cm minimum for above ground decoration. 

 

  • When it comes to substrate, make sure you use a high-quality substrate that is full of white rotting hardwood and leaf litter as the food component, and organic topsoil, mushroom compost and moss. We recommend using our Premium Millipede Edible Substrate or something with similar high quality ingredients. The substrate should never have to be fully replenished, and we simply spot clean and provide more food component substrate, rotting wood and leaf litter when needed which is around every month. Remember this is just for supplemental food items and decaying leaf litter and wood should be available at all times

 

  • Supplement their diet with a good quality protein source like shrimp pellets for optimal health. Like many invertebrates one of their favourites is cucumber which we provide in slices and replace once completely eaten. Many breeders suggest providing fresh fruit/ veg and protein once every 2-3 weeks, but we find that millipedes will readily take these food sources once a week.

 

  • Although millipedes prefer dark, damp conditions, it is important to maintain a regular 12-hour light cycle by placing the tank near a light source, such as another tank with an LED light, but never in direct sunlight as this will heat your tank to deadly temperatures. You can place a heat mat on the side of the tank, never the bottom, if your home is kept on the cool side.

 

  • We often see our millipedes out during the day walking on cork bark, lichen branches and exploring their tank, so it is important to make the tank enriching and stimulating for your millipedes. The happier your millipedes are, the more rewarding they become as pet invertebrates!
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