Smokey Oak Millipede (Narceus gordanus)

Are you looking for an exotic pet to bring some spice to your enclosure? Consider the Smokey Oak Millipede (Narceus gordanus)!

These yellow-banded beauties are captivating creatures that offer a unique opportunity to observe nature up close.

Not only do they look eye-catching, but they are relatively easy to care for!

In this article, we will guide you through the basic care requirements for these interesting little invertebrates.

Read on to learn more about these giant millipedes and how to keep them in top health!

Common Name Smokey Oak Millipede
Family Name Spirostreptidae
Scientific Name Narceus gordanus
Use Cleaning, Aerating Soil, Pets
Temperament Non-aggressive
Lifespan 10+ Years
Diet Detritivore
Adult Size 11.43 cm
Breeding Type Egg Layer
Care Level Easy
Minimum Tank Size 10-15 Gallons
pH 6.5-7.5
Hardness Moderate
Temperature 60-85°F

What Are Smokey Oak Millipedes?

Narceus gordanus are terrestrial arthropods that belong to the family Spirostreptidae.

These creatures feature a green and yellow-banded pattern along their body which gradually darkens with age.

They grow up to almost half a foot long and are commonly found in the forests and woodlands of Eastern North America.

The “Smokey Oak” portion of their common name comes from common North American Smokey Oak trees where they’re known to be found by the hundreds.

What Do Smokey Oak Millipedes Look Like?

Narceus gordanus typically measure about 11.43 cm in length and have a solid cylindrical body covered in a hard exoskeleton.

The exoskeleton is generally greenish-black with yellow vertical stripes.

Depending on the area, the color may range from shades of yellow, brown, or grey.

 Smokey Oak Millipedes have a head and thorax that are fused to form a “head shield.”

It also has two pairs of antennae and two pairs of maxillae that it uses to sense its environment and capture food.

It has between 21-23 body segments that host two pairs of legs per segment.

Smokey Oak Millipedes also have sensory organs called chemosensory organs on their underbelly, which they use to detect food and their environment.

Benefits Of Using Smokey Oak Millipedes

Narceus gordanus is ideal for those looking for an exotic pet to keep in a vivarium.

These millipedes boast a bright and bold color pattern that enlivens any living space.

These unique invertebrates are also easy to care for, making them a great choice for beginner pet owners.

Millipedes are great for tanks as they are relatively low-maintenance and enjoy burrowing through the substrate, aerating the soil, and providing natural waste removal services.

Additionally, the Smokey Oak Millipede is a non-aggressive species that won’t bother other inhabitants of the enclosure.

Narceus gordanus "Smokey Oak Millipede" Care Guide!

Smokey Oak Millipede Facts

Narceus gordanus is a species of land-dwelling invertebrates native to the Southeast United States.

These millipedes have a varied diet that consists of leaf litter, fruits, and fungi; they are docile and harmless, and they typically live between 7 to 10 years.

Breeding can be done in captivity with the right conditions.


Narceus gordanus is native to the southeastern and eastern regions of the United States, including Alabama, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia.

They usually inhabit the moist, deciduous forests and coastal plain wetlands of the southeastern United States, where they can find plenty of leaf litter, soil, and other decaying organic material.

They are especially commonly found near oak and hickory trees.

Most Smokey Oak Millipedes are known to inhabit areas with clay-rich or slightly sandy soil.

These millipedes love to be burrowed in dark, damp environments where they can nest and hide from their predators.


In the wild, Narceus gordanus primarily feed on decaying vegetation as well as smaller insects that they can find in the leaf litter.

They are also known to occasionally eat mushrooms, algae, and small pieces of bark from decaying tree logs.

This wide range of food sources allows them to easily find sustenance in their native habitats. 

In addition to these foods, millipedes can also supplement their diet with fallen fruit and other sources of nutrition, such as bird droppings. 

Given the range of dietary options available, it is safe to say that the diet of a Smokey Oak Millipede in its natural habitat is very diverse.


Smokey Oak Millipedes can make great pets for both adults and children, as they are very gentle animals.

While they may dart away when startled, they are quick to calm down and don’t cause any harm or destruction to their environment.

They are also non-aggressive towards other animals, even when they are threatened.

They are relatively peaceful around other animals and will rarely ever engage in any kind of aggressive behavior. 


Narceus gordanus can live for 10+ years if given adequate care.

During the millipede’s physical maturation process, which typically takes about a year, the animal will undergo several molts.

These molts result in a larger size and increased numbers of body segments.

The millipede’s physical growth comes to a close when it reaches its adult size and coloration. 

The lifespan of a Smokey Oak Millipede also depends heavily on the frequency of regular molting.

A lack of proper nutrition or environmental conditions can stunt these molts, leading to a life cut shorter than the typical two to four years.


Smokey Oak Millipedes are species of terrestrial arthropods and like most invertebrates, they reproduce by a process known as parthenogenesis.

This process involves the production of eggs which develop into young millipedes without the presence of sperm.

When a female Narceus gordanus is ready to lay her eggs, she will burrow into the substrate and lay them in a clump.

It’s important to ensure that the environment is kept moist to ensure the eggs don’t dry out and this can be done by misting the substrate now and then. 

Once the eggs have hatched, the young millipedes must have access to food and the right type of substrate to support their development.

Where To Find Smokey Oak Millipedes

Smokey Oak Millipedes are native to the eastern United States and are mainly found in the Appalachian and Black mountain ranges.

They are most active in the warmest months of the year and tend to spend their days under logs and stones or beneath leaf litter and another ground cover.

To find them in the wild, look in moist places that offer plenty of food and cover. 

Narceus gordanus can also be purchased from a reputable dealer or pet store.

Before purchasing, be sure to check that the millipedes are healthy and properly cared for.

Make sure to ask your supplier if the millipedes are captive-bred, wild-caught, or a mix of both.

Captive-bred millipedes have a much higher chance of survival and acclimation to a home setting.

Smokey Oak Millipede Care

Narceus gordanus require a habitat with a moist substrate and a gentle terrarium light source, as well as a consistent temperature range.

They can be fed a variety of fresh vegetables and prepared vitamin mixes.

It is important to monitor for health issues such as mites, mold growth, and irregular shedding.

With proper care, you can enjoy these interesting creatures for many years!

Tank Requirements

Smokey Oak Millipedes are well suited to a range of temperatures and moisture levels, making them fairly easy to care for.

The best way to house them is in a large glass paludarium or terrarium with a mesh top.

The ideal pH should be between 6 and 8 and the hardness between 5 and 8.

The temperature should stay between 22 and 28°C, with not too much fluctuation.

For terrarium soils, a mixture of peat moss soil, Coconut husk, and leaf litter is recommended.

For lighting, simple LED light is preferred although this is not necessary.

As Smokey Oak Millipedes are nocturnal, providing a dark spot for them to hide and sleep in.

What Do Smokey Oak Millipedes Eat?

When it comes to feeding Smokey Oak Millipedes, their diet should be varied and include a combination of living and non-living foods.

They are naturally scavengers so they will feed on just about anything.

Here is a list of suggested foods that you can offer your Smokey Oak Millipede:

  • Fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, and bell peppers 
  • Prepared fish flakes
  • Prepared millipede food mix
  • Calcium powder 
  • Dead insects such as mealworms and waxworms
  • Decaying vegetation and leaves

It is important to ensure that the food you offer is appropriately sized for your millipede.

Additionally, you should avoid overcrowding the cage with too many food items to prevent bacteria and mold from forming.

Finally, it’s important to sprinkle calcium powder on the food and to also use a shallow water dish to provide a source of hydration.

Feed your Millipede several times per week, and make sure to remove any uneaten food items.

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 Smokey Oak Millipedes

When it comes to finding tankmates for Smokey Oak Millipedes, there are a few key characteristics to look for.

It’s always best to find animals that are of a similar size so that they can live in harmony and not compete for food or space.

It’s also beneficial to look for animals that don’t require the same temperature and humidity level as the millipedes and that have similarly peaceful dispositions.

The best tankmates for the Smokey Oak Millipedes are other millipedes, isopods, or springtails.

These animals can provide an interesting environment and even engage in interesting interactions with your millipedes. 


From the unique beauty of their bright coloration to the unmistakable charm of their graceful movements, Smokey Oak Millipedes are a great addition to any home.

Not only are they interesting millipedes to keep as pets, but they are also fairly easy to look after with just a few simple requirements.

With the right care and nutrition, Narceus gordanus will be a wonderful companion for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Smoky oak millipedes are not poisonous to humans, but they secrete a liquid containing hydrogen cyanide.

Hydrogen cyanide can be toxic if ingested or if it comes into contact with the eyes or mucous membranes.

It is important to avoid handling them and to wash any affected areas immediately if you come into contact with their secretion.


Smoky oak millipedes, also known as Narceus gordanus, can live up to several years in the wild, with some individuals living for up to seven years.

Their lifespan can vary depending on factors such as habitat, temperature, and availability of food and water.


Smoky oak millipedes are detritivores, feeding on decaying plant matter in the wild.

In captivity, they can be fed a variety of fruits and vegetables, dried leaves, and pieces of bark or wood.

It is important to avoid feeding them any high-fat, high-protein, or high-sugar foods, and to provide them with a source of fresh water.


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