Giant African Millipede

Latin Name Archispirostreptus gigas
Class Diplopoda
Family Spirostreptidae
Habitat Forests and some coastal habitats
IUCN Status Not Listed
Distribution Lowland parts of East Africa

General Information 

Known as the giant African millipede or shongololo, this species is the largest species of millipede, growing up to 38.5 centimetres (15.2 in) in length and 67 millimetres (2.6 in) in circumference. It has approximately 256 legs, although the number of legs changes with each molt, so it can vary according to each individual.

Giant millipedes have a life expectancy of about 5–7 years. Giant millipedes have two main modes of defence if they feel threatened: curling into a tight spiral exposing only the hard exoskeleton, and the secretion of an irritating liquid from pores on their body. This liquid can be harmful if introduced into the eyes or mouth. Because of this defence, A. gigas is one of the few invertebrates that driver ants are incapable of taking as prey.

They eat a variety of plant matter, including fruits and vegetables and play an important ecological role in breaking down detritus on the forest floor.

Fun Fact!

These millipedes have a symbiotic relationship with a particular species of mite, in which the mites help clean the millipede's exoskeleton in exchange for food and the protection of their host millipede! If you look closesly at us you may even spot these mites working away!