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Giant African Millipede: Archispirostreptus gigas
In the Wild
 Dark brown/black
 Antennae
 Many segments and legs
o 4 legs per segment
o First few segments have only one pair of legs
o Most have 25 to 100 segments
 Up to 12 inches in length
Habitat and Range:
 Central Africa
 Tropical and arid costal forests
 Lives on land in moist microhabitats
o Under rocks, in rotting logs, in leaf debris, or occasionally in burrows
Decaying plant matter
o Detritivores
 Cuticular exoskeleton – “hardened plates joined together by flexible membranes”*
o allows for strong, but flexible body movement- ideal for burrowing
 Weak jaws are ideal for eating decaying plant matter
 Defenses:
o Curling up into a spiral
o May excrete a noxious chemical from final, “anal segment”
 Breathe through spiracles
 Lives up to 10 years in captivity
 7 years in the wild
Ecosystem relationships
 Prey for many animals
o Birds, tenrecs, snakes
 Decomposers
o Help “recycle” and keep waste at a minimum
 After mating, the female lays a couple hundred eggs in a chamber in the ground
o Young hatch about 3 months later
o Hatchlings are white and have only the first three pairs of legs
Giant African Millipede: Archispirostreptus gigas
 Called neonates
o They gain more segments and legs with each molt of their exoskeleton and also
darken in color
 Mainly nocturnal
Other “fun facts”:
 Arthropod
o Belongs to the class Diplopoda
 One of the largest millipedes
o About 7,000 species worldwide in various habitats
o Approximately 600 species in North America
 Have poor to no vision
o Light-shy
Conservation Status and Threats:
 Not Threatened
At the Zoo
The current group of millipedes was purchased from a dealer in 2010.
o Their age is unknown
Zoo diet: produce
What We Can Do
Make environmentally responsible lifestyle decisions to help conserve habitat –
conserve energy, reduce litter and pollution
Choose your pets carefully, the illegal pet trade threatens many other species
 Buchsbaum, Ralph. Animals without Backbones. Third ed. Chicago: University of
Chicago, 1987. Print. (Page 322)
 Burton, Robert. The International Wildlife Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Marshall
Cavendish, 1969. Print.