Common Name:  Florida Ivory Millipede

Scientific name:  Chicobolus spinigerus

Kingdom:  Animalia

Phylum:  Anthropoda

Class:  Diplopoda

Order:  Spirostreptida

Family:  Spirostreptidae

Genus:  Chicobolus

Species:  C. spinigerus


The Florida ivory millipede is an amazing animal!  It is one of approximately 10,000 different species of millipedes living around the world.  Millipedes are very clean creatures and spend a lot of time cleaning and polishing various parts of their body.  They are long, have many legs and are sometimes found as pets.  They are fascinating to watch and are relatively harmless.  This animal can be interesting to study whether you want to know more about the wild species or as a pet.

Millipedes are not insects.  They are arthropods and they make up the group called myriapods.  The word myriapod means “many” feet.  They are about four inches long and grow very quickly.  The Florida ivory millipede is one of the fastest growing millipedes and can grow from hatching to adult in a year and a half.  The tops of their bodies are dark gray, brown or red and their undersides and legs are white or a cream color. They have poor eyesight and find their way around using their antennas.  Millipedes have segmented bodies; two pairs of legs per body segment and move very slowly.  They do not bite and are not dangerous.  They can, in fact, make great pets.

The Florida ivory millipede is found in the United States.  They live in warm, moist areas and are found in soil and debris or under stones and bark, typically along the eastern coast, from Florida to South Carolina.  Millipedes are abundant.  It is unclear what their conservation status is but one study shows that the population declines were associated with climate while another study shows decline is associated by the destruction of habitats for land use.  Millipedes are a popular pet and are often found as part of wildlife education programs.

Millipedes are “decomposers.”  They get their energy from leaves.  Millipedes eat dead or decaying plant and animal material.  They moisturize the food with secretions and then use their jaws to scrape it in.  There are very few animals that will eat millipedes because they have a very hard exoskeleton.  Snakes, birds and birds are among the common predators.  When startled, millipedes will burrow in the ground or they will coil up into a ball and secrete a fluid which is an irritant to predators.  This fluid can be irritating, but not harmful to humans.

The reason millipedes are important is that they play an important role in deciduous forests (trees that loose their leaves every year).  They eat the leaves that drop and poop out waste material that turns into soil, filled with moisture and nutrients.  Trees would die with this soil.  Millipedes and other insects are essential because they help maintain balance in nature.  They are also docile creatures and may safely be kept as pets and handled without risk of injury.

Author:  Isaac Z

Published:  02/2012


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