Oxidus gracilis, or Greenhouse Millipede, is a common “pest” found in gardens and greenhouses around the world… Hints the name!
But is it really a problem to have around vegetation? Better yet, do they make cool pets to own?
Short answers: No and yes! They aren’t something you should worry about and they make absolutely neat pets to own and learn from since they are low-cost and easy to care for.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of caring for your small millipede, including housing, feeding, breeding, and more.
Read on to learn all you need to know about Oxidus gracilis care.
|Common Name||Greenhouse Millipede, Garden Millipede, Hothouse Millipede, Short-Flange Millipede|
|Scientific Name||Oxidus gracilis|
|Use||Cleaning, Aerating Soil, Pets|
|Adult Size||2.54 cm|
|Breeding Type||Egg Layer|
|Minimum Tank Size||5-10 Gallons|
What Are Greenhouse Millipedes?
Greenhouse millipedes are scientifically known as Oxidus gracilis. They are arthropod insects in the family Paradoxosomatidae.
They have an average length of 2-2.5 cm and grow up to more than 25mm in rare cases.
The common name “Greenhouse Millipedes” originates from their habit of gathering around these structures in large numbers, typically under humid conditions.
What Do Greenhouse Millipedes Look Like?
Oxidus gracilis are small invertebrates that measure 8-25mm in length.
They have cylindrical bodies that are generally dark gray with reddish-brown stripes, small legs, and long antennas.
They have 17 body segments, with two pairs of legs on each section, and two tiny hooks on the last two segments for protection and movement.
They also have sensory organs, called pseudotrachaea, located on their tenth body segment. This helps them detect changes in their environment and adapt accordingly.
In addition, Greenhouse Millipedes are smooth and glossy and have short setae throughout their body, which furrow and wiggle when they move.
Setae are tiny hairs that help them feel and anchor onto leaves when they are climbing.
Benefits Of Using Greenhouse Millipedes
Greenhouse millipedes make popular choices for vivarium pets due to their low-maintenance needs and gentle nature.
They are incredibly active and make strong additions to many types of vivariums.
As dedicated scavengers, they play an important role in reducing leaf litter and helping to keep the surrounding area clean.
They can also be great additions to enclosures with frogs, lizards, and other small invertebrates, as they are non-aggressive and will not hurt their tankmates.
Greenhouse millipedes can help to create a more lively and interesting environment for other creatures.
Additionally, these millipedes can help to aerate the soil in your terrarium or garden, as they are constantly burrowing and moving, helping to keep the ground alive with beneficial microbes.
Finally, many people worry about rather they will harm live plants in a garden or greenhouse.
Oxidus gracilis eat decaying plant matter so rest assured your vegetation will be safe if not thrive from the consistent cleanup of fallen leaves.
Greenhouse Millipede Facts
Oxidus gracilis are low-maintenance, undemanding pets native to Japan, but are commonly found throughout the world.
These millipedes are known by many common names which include Greenhouse Millipede, Garden Millipede, Hothouse Millipede, and Short-Flange Millipede.
They typically reach a lifespan of up to 5 years while being able to breed easily under the right environmental conditions and temperature.
Greenhouse Millipede is a species of millipede native to Japan but commonly found across parts of Europe, North and South America, and Asia.
In nature, they inhabit forest floors, leaf debris, and wet soil, where they take refuge among rotting plants and leaf litter.
Greenhouse Millipedes have adapted to live in a wide range of habitats, from the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia to the temperate climates of the UK and Scandinavia.
They are often found in urban and agricultural areas, living among gardens and greenhouses where they feed on decomposing vegetation and other organic material like mosses, fungi, and wood.
These millipedes also find shelter in compost heaps and under logs and stones, as well as in burrows and other cool, damp, and dark areas.
In the wild, Oxidus gracilis are omnivores that feed on both plant matter and small insects.
As detritivores, they are especially fond of decaying organic material and help clean up their environment by eating dead plants and animals.
Their diet may also include moist fruits and vegetables, sometimes accompanied by small doses of proteins such as worms and insects.
Greenhouse Millipedes can keep their environment safe and clean of bacteria with their enzymes.
These enzymes break down polysaccharides, proteins, and lipids, turning their meals into forms of energy that they can use.
The enzymes also help them detect food sources, as they are attracted to the nutrients and scents of their food sources.
As a result, they often seek out rotting wood or areas where fungi or bacteria develop, allowing them to feed and clean up their environment simultaneously.
Oxidus gracilis are gentle, shy creatures that prefer to avoid contact. They are not harmful to humans, live plants, or other animals, as they don’t bite or sting.
Although Greenhouse Millipedes typically stay in hiding, they can be handled carefully if you take the time to get to know them.
As you spend more time with your Garden Millipede, it will learn to trust you and can eventually be coaxed out of hiding.
In terms of other animals, Oxidus gracilis should be avoided by cats, dogs, and large birds due to their vulnerability.
The lifespan of a Greenhouse Millipede can vary greatly depending on the environment and care provided.
On average, however, these millipedes can live up to 4-7 years.
Oxidus gracilis mature when they reach 6-7 months of age. The male and female mate at this stage, and after mating, the female lays 40-50 eggs.
After around 2-6 weeks of incubation, the eggs will hatch, and new millipedes emerge.
The baby millipedes go through complete metamorphosis, meaning they will go through several molts over the next few months until they reach adulthood.
At adulthood, the millipedes are fully mature and able to reproduce. This process will start the cycle over again, and the millipedes can then enjoy several more years of life.
With proper care, the lifespan of Oxidus gracilis can be extended even further.
Oxidus gracilis mate very similarly to many other millipede species.
After careful sexing (telling the difference between males and females) the male will lay down a sperm packet and then use his legs to help the female pick up the sperm.
She then uses her special sperm groove on the underside of her body to take the sperm and pass it into her system.
Once the sperm is taken in by the female, she will lay her eggs in a special moist, dark chamber.
Millipedes require the proper environment to lay their eggs, which usually includes a compost or mulch-type substrate.
The eggs are laid by the female, who then seals the chamber off with soil.
Once the eggs have hatched, the juveniles will have designed cuticles, which will help to protect them as they mature.
In a few months, these juveniles will begin to look more like adults with differentiated antennae, legs, and mouthparts.
Where To Find Greenhouse Millipedes
Greenhouse Millipedes are widely available for sale in pet stores, garden centers, and reptile expos.
Additionally, they can sometimes be found in the wild. Oxidus gracilis are relatively common and can be found in tropical and subtropical climates.
If you’re looking for wild Garden Millipedes, you can check your local wooded areas, compost piles, and greenhouses.
If you choose to purchase a Hothouse Millipede, it’s important to research the seller/breeder before making a purchase.
All animals should come from a source with a good reputation, offering healthy specimens.
Greenhouse Millipede Care
Caring for Greenhouse Millipedes is as easy as it gets for invertebrates.
Provide them with a spacious enclosure, substrate, and decorations, and maintain temperatures, humidity, and light levels accordingly.
Provide them with a varied diet and feed them every few days. Be aware of common health issues and keep their enclosure clean to ensure their health and well-being.
The ideal tank for Oxidus gracilis should be a humid terrarium or paludarium. It should contain naturalistic decorations to create hiding places.
The enclosure should have a terrarium substrate mix of coconut husk, sphagnum moss, and vermiculite soil to provide the millipede with the humidity it needs.
Additionally, the tank should be kept at 75°F (24°C) with 40-60% humidity. The pH should be kept between 6.2-7.8 and the hardness should be between 3-10 dGH.
If you wish to provide additional light, a scheduled terrarium lighting source is strongly recommended to simulate their natural environment.
What Do Greenhouse Millipedes Eat?
Feeding your Greenhouse millipede is an important part of keeping them healthy and happy.
They are omnivorous, meaning they will eat both decaying meat and plants. Here is a list of things you can feed your Oxidus gracilis:
- Fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, and zucchini
- Leafy greens such as kale, romaine lettuce, cabbage, and Swiss chard
- Grains such as oats, wheat bran, barley, and quinoa
- Insects such as crickets, mealworms, wax worms, and small cockroaches
- Commercial millipede food
When feeding your Oxidus gracilis, make sure the food items are cut into small pieces and the food is fresh.
You can also sprinkle a calcium supplement on the food to provide extra nutrients. Offer your Greenhouse millipede fresh food daily and remove any leftovers that haven’t been eaten.
With the right diet, your Oxidus gracilis will stay healthy and active 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 Greenhouse Millipedes
Greenhouse Millipedes can be kept with a variety of other small pets, including some invertebrates and other small millipede species.
Popular tankmates for Oxidus gracilis include isopods, waxworms, and springtails.
All of these animals have similar environmental requirements, which makes them ideal tankmates.
isopod species such as sow bugs, Cubaris, and pill bugs are also capable of coexisting with Greenhouse millipedes, as their diets and living requirements are similar.
In addition, these organisms can help keep a Greenhouse millipede’s enclosure clean, as they feed on decaying organic matter.
When considering tankmates for your Greenhouse millipede, it is important to remember that all animals should be properly quarantined before introduction.
Additionally, ensure that there are no escape prevention barriers in place before adding tankmates, as Greenhouse millipedes can easily escape from low enclosures when stressed.
Caring for an Oxidus gracilis is relatively straightforward, and can be an incredibly rewarding experience for beginner and experienced pet owners alike.
With suitable housing, the right diet, regular health monitoring, and plenty of TLC, you can enjoy having your pet millipede for years.
Following these guidelines, you should be well on your way to properly caring for your Greenhouse Millipede. AND… as you can see, they won’t harm your garden or greenhouse!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Oxidus gracilis (greenhouse millipede) can be beneficial as they are known to be detritivores and help to break down organic matter in the soil, helping to improve soil structure and health. They can be used as a form of natural pest control as well, eating any decaying plant matter and discouraging other pests from entering the area.
While some millipede species do produce defensive toxins or secretions that can be harmful to predators or prey, the greenhouse millipede does not produce any significant toxins or secretions that pose a threat to humans. However, some people may experience a mild allergic reaction if they come into contact with the millipede’s secretions, so it’s still a good idea to handle them with care.
Greenhouse millipedes are eaten by a variety of predators in their natural habitat, including some species of birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Some common predators of greenhouse millipedes include ground beetles, centipedes, spiders, and predatory mites.
Greenhouse millipedes are likely entering your home in search of moisture, food, or shelter. To prevent infestations, reduce moisture levels, seal entry points, and remove any organic debris that may be attracting them.
Greenhouse millipedes are native to various regions around the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. These millipedes are commonly found in damp, organic-rich environments like gardens, greenhouses, and compost piles, where they help to break down organic matter in the soil.