African milipede

African milipede

Archispirostreptus gigas

Geographic range: Eastern Africa – from Mozambique to Kenya. 

Physical description: These passive animals prefer areas of high humidity and can grow up to 19 cm long. Their colours can vary from light grey to bright purple but they are usually plain. Up to 300 pairs of legs help them dig through the moist ground and their shells are made of hard chitin.

Biology: When startled, they will curl into a tight spiral and secret out an irritating liquid in order to protect themselves. This liquid can be dangerous to humans if it makes contact with the eyes or mouth. When they hatch they only have 3 pairs of legs, but subsequently grow more pairs with each of the next 7-10 moltings. They are mostly active at night and usually live in colonies of up to 10 individuals.

Lifespan: 5 – 7 years.

Food habits: Fruit and vegetables. 

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