There are so many different millipedes in the world. And many of them are quite easy to keep as well. Millipedes make great pets to have. But what if you want to have multiple species? What if you like to have bumblebee millipedes and scarlet red millipedes? Do you need to house them separately or can you keep different millipede species together?
You can house different millipede species together successfully as long as they have the same requirements for housing, food and environment. However, when you place different species together, you need to consider a few things like enclosure size and food competition.
There are many beautiful coloured millipede species. No wonder that you want to house different millipede species together. It won’t be a problem to do that, but you need to consider a couple of things so all species will thrive equally.
Keep different millipede species together
Before you place different millipede species together, you need to consider three things to make it a sure success: Equal environment requirements, enclosure size and food competition.
Equal environment requirements of all species
Let me be clear from the start: you only can house different millipede species together when they have the same requirements on housing, substrate, and environment.
Oftentimes this means that the species will come from the same habitat or live in the same location. When you have millipede species with different requirements, for example, with temperature, you should house them separately.
More millipedes needs more space
When you place more millipedes in one enclosure, they all need enough space to have places to hide, rest, moult and breed. It is actually the same when having more individuals of the same species.
Especially with the moulting process and when you want to breed with them, enough space is an essential factor to keep them happy and healthy.
Another thing you should consider is to place more substrate in your enclosure. If you have a low layer of a substrate that is around 2″ (5cm) deep, it would be good practice to high it up to at least 4″ (10cm). This will also create more space (volume) for millipedes to keep them happy.
Avoid food competition
Food competition between different species can happen from a couple of reasons. Or they start competing on the food item that is preferred most, or you don’t feed enough, or you have not enough places where they can feed.
Be aware that this can also be the case when having more individuals of the same species. When having more millipedes in the enclosure, be sure that you have enough food in the substrate (recommended read: millipede substrate guide), but also feed enough supplemental food items spread around the enclosure.
This way, you make sure every millipede have enough opportunity to feed and stay healthy and well-nourished.
Can different millipede species breed with each other (crossbreed)?
If you are new to keeping millipedes, you probably wonder if different species of millipedes can breed with each other.
Millipedes of different species can not interbreed (also called crossbreed) with each other and produce live young. But be aware that millipedes of different subspecies (millipedes that are really closely related and belong to the same species/genus) can possibly breed and produce young.
Therefore, nearly all millipede species can be housed together without the risk of crossbreeding. Besides that, there are also no problems with aggression whatsoever between different species. Although most can’t successfully breed, they surely might try.
Can you house millipedes with other animals?
What about keeping millipedes with other animals then? Can you make a successful communal-setup with other animals species?
Yes, you can, although it has some challenges of their own. First of all, the same applies as with housing millipedes of different species together. You need to provide enough space, enough food, and the species need to have the same environmental requirements (temperature, humidity, and light).
New to keeping millipedes? If you do, don’t start with a communal setup of different species. It requires more experience in keeping bugs, and it important to first have some basic understanding, experience and feeling with millipedes.
Challenges of communal setups
But with another animal species also come other challenges: food competition and successful breeding. Other species can be more aggressive in claiming the food and therefore compete more with millipedes. This can happen because the other species have more strength of larger body size.
Also, millipedes are slow-moving, and when you feed, do not immediately come to eat from it. When the other animals do come immediately, you need to provide enough food (almost constantly available), so there is enough that the millipedes can eat as well.
The breeding of millipedes can also be affected. Consider that some animals can be housed together, but may eat on millipede eggs or small millipedes. For example, isopods and beetles are know to nibble on baby millipedes and eggs, damaging them which eventually cause death.
Another thing that can happen in communal setups is that one species will breed quicker than the other animal. When this happens, they push away the other animal. For example, when keeping sun beetles mixed with millipedes, sun beetles will reproduce much faster than millipedes. Knowing that beetle larvae sometimes will eat a millipede egg, can eventually cause that the millipede species will not survive in the mixed setup.
Suitable species for communal setup with millipedes
There are some species that can be successfully kept together with millipedes. Important to mention that there was considerable space for them and that food was daily provided in large enough quantities.
I have for several years keeping African giant black millipedes together with sun beetles and African giant snails. This combination works pretty well when having enough space (enclosure of 40″ by 40″ by 80″ / 100cm x 100cm x 200cm).
Still, we often need to reduce the number of baby snails and beetles or beetle larvae to keep it successful. If you have reptiles, for example, you can feed beetle larvae and small snails once in a while to keep the population stable.
I don’t have experience with the combination on my own but have heard several positive stories about combining millipedes with slow-growing cockroaches, like Madagascar hissing cockroaches or emerald cockroaches. However, you need to make sure to absolutely provide enough food. Also, don’t combine them with a cockroach species that is relatively aggresive or have a high reproduction rate (for example, dubia roaches or red runners).
Clean-up crews like isopods and springtails can also work. However, remind that (especially) isopods feed on the same food source as millipedes do. When they get with too many, they can start competing with millipedes on food.
Want to know more about millipedes?
Are you new to keeping millipedes or want to know more about the care for millipedes, I like to recommend you to read the basic guide of keeping and caring for millipedes.
The substrate is one of the most important aspects when keeping millipedes. Therefore I dedicated a special guide on the best way to apply the substrate to your millipedes in this millipede substrate guide. Head over and learn more about the millipede substrate.
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