The American Giant Millipede (Narceus americanus) is as big as it gets if you’re on this side of the globe!
Native to the Eastern United States, these arthropods can grow to be as much as 5 inches and are pretty easy to come by within the trade.
In this guide, we will explore everything you need to know to provide a suitable habitat and diet to keep your large millipede happy and healthy.
|Common Name||American Giant Millipede, Giant Pink Foot Millipede|
|Scientific Name||Narceus americanus|
|Use||Cleaning, Aerating Soil, Pets|
|Adult Size||12.7 cm|
|Breeding Type||Egg Layer|
|Minimum Tank Size||10-15 Gallons|
|pH||6.0 to 7.5|
What Are American Giant Millipedes?
The American Giant Millipede belongs to the family Spirostreptidae and is also known as the Giant Pink Foot Millipede.
They are native to the Eastern United States and can be found under logs and in leaf litter.
The name “giant” comes from the larger size of this species of millipede, as compared to other related species.
They can grow almost half a foot long and can live up to 10 years or more if provided with proper care.
What Do American Giant Millipedes Look Like?
Narceus americanus are red or brown arthropods with a segmented body, an elongated shape, and an average length of 12.7 centimeters.
They have around 33 segments in their body and each segment contains two pairs of legs, giving them 41 pairs of legs in total.
American Giant Millipedes also have two large antennae on their head which help them to explore their environment and senses their surroundings.
The color and shape of their segments vary depending on the stage of their life; the younger millipedes tend to be darker, while the older ones tend to be lighter in color.
Their exoskeleton, which covers their body and provides protection, is dark and shiny.
An American Giant Millipede has two claws that help them climb trees, rocks, and bark of trees.
Benefits Of Using American Giant Millipedes
American giant millipedes make great additions to vivariums due to their unique natural behaviors and hardiness.
These invertebrates make wonderful guests in both arboreal and terrestrial enclosures, helping mimic natural habitats with their nocturnal activities.
Not only do they play an important role in their environment, but they are also great clean-up crew members, consuming decaying organic matter and aerating the soil with their many legs.
Narceus americanus is also fun to watch as they make their way around the tank in search of food.
American Giant Millipede Facts
American Giant Millipedes are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the night and spend their time during the day hidden in logs, leaf litter, and debris.
They have poor eyesight, relying on their antennae to sense their environment.
This can make them skittish and easily startled, so it is important not to disturb them during the day.
When properly cared for, they can live for many years and feed on an omnivorous diet.
Though Narceus americanus is not easily capable of breeding in captivity, they may lay eggs in optimal conditions.
American giant millipedes are native to the Eastern United States, and commonly found in areas where the air is humid, such as forest floors and drainage ditches.
They prefer to live in forests and moist woodlands, where they can hide among piles of decaying leaves and logs.
Narceus americanus prefers to stay hidden in the daytime, becoming active at night and feasting on decaying organic material.
In the wild, American giant millipedes feed on a wide range of items.
Much of their diet consists of decaying plant matter and various small invertebrates like earthworms and insect larvae.
They are also known to eat fresh leaves, fruits, and mushrooms.
Narceus americanus have been observed foraging for food during wet weather when their food sources are at their most abundant.
Their diet is also supplemented by items like bark, soil, and decaying wood.
Although millipedes are not strictly herbivores, their diet should consist mainly of plant-based foods.
American giant millipedes are generally not aggressive toward humans, and they are not venomous.
As a natural defense, they may curl up into a ‘C’ shape when disturbed and secrete a smelly liquid.
They generally prefer to be kept alone but may be housed with other giant millipedes.
While millipedes may be timid and not necessarily friendly, their curiosity can draw them to investigate their human caretakers.
While handling a millipede may cause it to stress, light handling can help build trust between a pet and its keeper.
As long as the pet is acclimated to the keeper’s hand, it can be held without harming the millipede.
Narceus americanus can live five to seven years in the wild, and even longer in the right captive conditions.
In the wild, they typically go through several stages of development: egg, instar, juvenile, and adult.
During the egg phase, the eggs hatch into worm-like larval forms called instars.
The number of instars can vary between 6 and 20, and each instar offers the opportunity for the millipede to molt and grow.
At the end of the final instar, the millipede enters the juvenile stage and this is when it develops its external skeleton for the first time.
The last stage of the cycle is adulthood, which can take roughly a year or two to reach from egg to adult.
During adulthood, the millipede continues to molt every four to twelve months to grow in size.
In captivity, American giant millipedes can live longer than in the wild.
The key to achieving a long lifespan is providing the millipedes with the correct diet and enclosure environment.
American Giant Millipedes have a unique mating process that starts when they come together in large groups to breed.
As they come together, they secrete strong-smelling pheromones that attract potential mates.
The males then court the female and will grasp her legs with his.
After mating, the female will lay between 20 and 50 eggs in soft organic matter, such as soil, decaying plant material, or any other moist place where the eggs will be safe.
After an incubation period of 30 to 60 days, small baby millipedes will hatch and immediately dig into the ground and begin to eat and grow.
Where To Find American Giant Millipedes
The Narceus americanus can be found in deciduous forests, open woodlands, and forests with moist soils.
They are usually found in damp places, under stones, and within leaf litter.
In the wild, these millipedes are often seen making trails and eating decaying wood, leaves, and other organic matter.
Due to their popularity as pets, you may also now find these creatures for sale.
They can be purchased in pet stores and online specialists and are available in a variety of sizes and colors.
When buying from a store or online, be sure to inspect the enclosure for any signs of stress, dehydration, or other maladies.
American Giant Millipede Care
American giant millipedes require a cage with adequate humidity and temperature levels, and a substrate of leaf litter.
Their diet should consist of fruits, and vegetables supplemented with calcium.
When handling, use slow movements and keep an eye out for medical signs, such as lack of appetite, lethargy, or molt abnormalities.
Regular health care, such as periodic checkups, is recommended for an optimal living environment.
When keeping Narceus americanus, a tank with a 10-15 gallon capacity is usually the most suitable.
The tank should be properly fitted with a secure lid as these millipedes can be escape artists.
Vivarium type is important when creating an ideal habitat, as the American giant millipede prefers high humidity and a moist substrate.
Paludariums and terrariums tend to be the ideal option for creating that environment.
The pH should remain neutral, with a hardiness of 0-300PPM, and temperature at 73°F-80°F.
The terrarium soil should include organic matter such as oak leaves, loose coco fiber soil, and/or small pieces of wood.
Moisture should be maintained by misting down the substrate and walls of the tank twice a day.
Terrarium lighting should be kept low, as the millipedes are nocturnal.
What Do American Giant Millipedes Eat?
Narceus americanus are detritivores and typically feed on decaying organic matter in the wild.
In captivity, however, their diet should consist of a variety of items to ensure they get the nutrition they need.
Here is a list of food items that can be offered:
- Decaying invertebrates: Worms, crickets, slugs, and other insects make an excellent meal for millipedes and are high in protein.
- Fruits and vegetables: Soft fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, carrots, and squash should make up the majority of the millipede’s diet.
- Necessary supplements: Calcium and multivitamin supplements are essential to millipedes and can be sprinkled on their food.
When feeding your millipede, it is important to provide multiple items so they can choose the food they prefer.
The items should be cut into small pieces, or they can be dusted with calcium and vitamin powder if desired.
Be sure to remove any uneaten food from the cage after 24 hours to avoid mess and rot.
Finally, it is important to provide a shallow food dish for your millipede to crawl into and feed.
With the proper diet and nutrition, your American giant millipede can remain healthy and happy for many years to come!
If you’re more of an avid hobbyist like myself, be sure to check out my ultimate DIY Millipede food guide. I give a more in-depth explanation of the best foods and my favorite recipe.
Best Tankmates For American Giant Millipedes
American giant millipedes are social animals, so it can be beneficial to house them together with other millipedes.
It is best to house the same species together, so you would need to have multiples of Narceus americanus.
You could also keep other millipede species with giant millipedes, as long as they have similar temperature and humidity requirements.
In addition to millipedes, isopods are suitable tankmates for American Giant Millipedes.
Isopods are a good food source, but they can also provide cleaning and entertainment.
Isopods can often be found at the same pet store where Narceus americanus are sold, which makes it convenient to purchase both at the same time.
Finally, springtails are great tankmates for Narceus americanus.
They aid in keeping the ecosystem mold-free, as well as a source of entertainment for the millipedes.
Caring for an American Giant Millipede can be a rewarding experience.
They live up to 10+ years, and with the proper housing, diet, and preventive health care, your pet millipede can thrive in their long-lived lifespan.
It’s important to remember that these creatures prefer to go unseen during the day, so it is important to provide plenty of hiding spots for your millipede.
Adhering to these guidelines will ensure that you provide the best possible environment for Narceus americanus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Narceus americanus is not poisonous to humans or animals but can secrete a mild irritant from its defensive glands.
It is recommended to handle them with care and to avoid consuming them as they could have come into contact with toxic substances in their environment.
To take care of a Narceus americanus, provide a spacious terrarium with moist soil, leaf litter, and wood, feed them fresh vegetables and fruits, and provide a shallow dish of clean water.
You must also, handle them with care and clean the terrarium regularly. They are low-maintenance pets that can live for several years with proper care.
Yes, it is possible to handle an American Giant Millipede, though it is important to ensure that it is done cautiously.
It is best to gently cup the millipede in your hands and not hold it too tightly, as it can be sensitive to being handled.
American giant millipedes can reach up to 8 inches in length, though they typically grow to be around 4-6 inches long.
They are also quite wide and can reach a diameter of up to 1.3 inches.
The lifespan of a giant pink foot millipede can vary but generally ranges from 3–6 years.
However, with proper care and diet, a giant pink foot millepede can live up to 10 years.