Millipedes are amazing pets to have. See them walk with their many legs around the enclosure on your desk, bookshelf a closet. Giant millipedes, like the commonly kept giant African millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas), can live up to 10 years if you take good care of.
This fascinating pet — which is also called shongololo — is one of the greatest pet you can have. They are an easy pet too. They don’t use a lot of space, they are easy to take care of and don’t have high requirements. But how about the costs? Is a millipede cheap to keep, or rather expensive? So, the question that we will dive into here is: how much does a pet millipede cost to keep? Not only to purchase a millipede but all the essential costs to take good care of them.
We calculated that on average, the initial costs to buy and keep a millipede is between $210 and $590. Upkeep and care of millipedes will cost yearly between $45 and $100. Assuming your millipede will live up to 10 years will be a total average expense of $1255.
|Product category||Initial costs||Yearly costs|
|Purchase millipede||$10 – $20|
|Terrarium||$100 – $250|
|Climate||$15 – $40||$10|
|Furniture & decoration||$50 – $150|
|Accessories||$0 – $40|
|Substrate||$15 – $40||$15 – $40|
|Food||$20 – $50||$20 – $50|
|Total||$210 – $590||$45 – $100|
What’s the point of only knowing how much a millipede cost, where there are all essential supplies needed to take good care of them? We have calculated the total cost of keeping millipedes. To keep a millipede as a pet will have a total average expense of $1255. This total is based on the average prices of the products without any discounts, based on keeping one millipede.
We talk about the initial costs that you make before you can start keeping a millipede. These costs include housing, climate, furnishing, and accessories. Essentially these costs you only make ones (at least, if nothing breaks during the lifespan of your pet).
The yearly costs are based on the upkeep and care of a millipede. These costs include keeping a proper environment, providing food and necessary cleaning.
Initial costs to keep a millipede
First, let’s talk about the initial cost to make when you want to keep millipedes. Of course, it starts with the purchase price, but we also look at enclosures, climate (heating), decoration of the exhibit and essential accessories.
Purchase price — how much does a millipede cost?
Most adult millipede species will cost around $10 to $20 each. Some rare or unique specimens can cost much more up to $50, but you will not come across these millipedes regularly.
There are a few factors that influence the price. Adult specimens (full-grown) often cost more than smaller young specimens. This is because it takes some time for a breeder to raise them to full size. However, there is no difference in price between males and females. Often when you buy two or more will reduce cost per specimen.
There multiple places where you can buy millipedes. Some (exotic) pet stores sell them, and often some local breeders offer different millipede species as well. You can also purchase your millipede at a reptile show/venue. However, many people nowadays buy their millipedes online. Although there are many good online pet stores and breeders that sell healthy millipedes, you should always be aware of the risk that they can be less healthy or are damaged during delivery.
In the table below, we have summed up average prices of common millipede species that are kept as pets and are regularly available.
|Species||Price each (adult size)|
|African giant black millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas)||$20|
|Ivory millipede (Chicobolus spinigerus)||$10|
|Scarlet millipede (Trigoniulus corallinus)||$12|
|Smokey oak millipede (Narceus gordanus)||$15|
|Giant pink foot millipede||$20|
|Bumblebee millipede (Anadenobolus monilicornis)||$20|
|Rainbow millipede (Tonkinbolus dollfusi)||$15|
|North American giant millipede (Narceus americanus)||$10|
The terrarium enclosure is probably the biggest expense of keeping a millipede. Although there are many choices and equally many different prices, a proper terrarium to keep between 2 and 5 millipedes will cost around $100 – $250.
For the enclosure, it is recommended that you have at least a 24″ (60cm) wide terrarium, but preferably even a 36″ (90cm) wide terrarium. The surface is more important than the height. Enclosures that I can recommend are:
- Exo Terra 24″ x 18″ x 12″ Glass Terrarium (PT2604)
- Exo Terra 36″ x 18″ x 12″ Glass Terrarium (PT2611)
- Repti Zoo RK0117 or RK0118 (or similar sized)
These terrariums are good sized, safe, and comfortable to keep millipedes and breed with them. Of course, there are also other (cheaper) options or to build an enclosure yourself. For the size, you can use the measurements of 24″/36″ x 18″ x 12″. Make sure there is enough ventilation in the enclosure possible (preferably top mesh screen ventilation).
You need to provide an appropriate climate and environment for you millipedes. Therefore you need to think about heating, humidity and lighting.
Temperature — Most millipedes will thrive with a temperature between 65°F and 83°F (18°C-28°C). I have good experience to keep millipedes around 77°F (25°C). So, additional heating is desirable. A simple heat pad with a thermostat does the trick. This will cost you between $10 to $35. You can also use the lighting as a heating source. You don’t have to heat the whole enclosure equally, but make sure ½ of the enclosure is kept at this optimal temperature.
Humidity — Humidity is important to keep the substrate in good condition. So you need to be able to moisten the enclosure properly. A (plant) spray bottle works very well for this purpose. Good spray bottles can already be bought for $5.
Lighting — Although millipedes are mostly nocturnal creatures and are most active during night time scavenge for food, there is still a need for some light and some light cycle. A simple room table or desk lamp is enough to light the enclosure. Be aware the most lamps will also produce heat, but you can use that as an advantage and heat your enclosure whit your light source. However, it is still good practice to have a backup heating source.
Based on the average electricity prices and estimated electricity use, it will cost probably around $10 a year for powering the heating and lighting source. The costs of water can be neglected (this is much less than $0.01 a year).
Decoration & accessories
Further decoration is not completely essential, but it will certainly increase the appeal of your enclosure. Furthermore, adding some natural decorations also creates hides that are liked by millipedes.
Decorations include rocks, pebbles, logs, twigs, wood pieces, bark hides, plants, artificial plants, mosses and a background (photo/cork wall). What you need depends mostly on your taste, but on average you could spend between $50 to $150 to decorate your enclosure. I can recommend adding some cork hides and (artificial) plants to create hides for your millipedes. You can buy many decoration items in an exotic pet store or online through Amazon or other webshops.
Other accessories you can think of and which can be practical are, for example, a food bowl, dedicated window cleaning set, and temperature/hygrometer to monitor your enclosure. Costs of these items will be between $25 and $40 (food bowl: $10-$15, window cleaning set: $10, temperature/hygrometer: $5-$15). Although not essential when keeping millipedes, it makes the care of them easier.
Yearly costs to care for a millipede
The initial costs are most of the total expense, but there are some recurring costs that you’ll need to take into account. These yearly costs are for the upkeep and care for millipedes. This way you won’t have to be surprised by these costs.
The substrate is a crucial element for keeping millipedes. The substrate needs to contain two elements: The base substrate and the food substrate. Millipedes are detritivores and eat on decaying organic matters.
As the base substrate, the best you can use is coconut fibre. For a normal-sized enclosure, you need around 20 litres of it for a 2″ (5cm) layer. It will cost you between $15 to $20.
As a food substrate, you can use different materials. There are some good products available online for around $20 for about 20 litres. You can hustle it with the base substrate so that you have a good 4″ (10cm) layer for millipedes to live on and to live in, and also feeding on it.
Another way to go is to find rotten leaves and decaying wood in a forest or park nearby. These products work perfectly as a food substrate for millipedes and won’t cost you anything. However, it would be best if you froze it for several days to kill most bacteria, fungi and other small insects in these items. If you don’t, it may give troubles in the long run.
If you like to make a bioactive setup, you can buy bioactive ready substrate for $35 and/or add springtails, which will cost around $10 (or create a springtail breeding setup for around $20 to $40 for unlimited springtail supply).
Some supplemental food is recommended to provide for millipedes to feed on. Although, millipedes can survive on the (food) substrate alone, the like to feast from fresh fruits and vegetables. Particularly cucumber, endive and chicory seems to be favoured by them. Plus you can feed them some dry dog pellets for additional vitamins and minerals.
Supplemental food will cost you around $20 to $50. You don’t have to feed them daily and some items can be left in the enclosure for several days. And remember, they also feed on the substrate, so if you don’t have some of these food in the enclosure is not a problem.
Are there ways to save money?
You may wonder if there are ways to save money by doing things differently or if there is a cheaper way. Well, there are some ways to decrease costs. Let’s discuss these cheaper opportunities below.
One of the biggest expense of keeping millipedes is the terrarium enclosure. Glass terrariums are rather expensive. But you can reduce the costs when you build your own enclosure. If you are handy with tools and wood materials, you can make your own millipede enclosure. You can use wood/plastic/metal to build a frame and close it off with plexiglass plates or metal mesh screens. Remember that you have access to the enclosure, but you can also close off the enclosure so a millipede won’t escape.
Another possibility is the use of plastic containers to house your millipede. Although much cheaper it lacks clear visibility to see your crawler in the enclosure and you need to make some adaptations for ventilation. You can drill small holes or cut out larger holes and cover them with fine metal mesh. You can also cut out one side and cover it with a clear plexiglass.
When you want to furnish and decorate the enclosure, but also to create the substrate, you can use a lot of materials you easily find in parks and local forest. Wood, rocks, leave litter, decaying woods, dirt, mosses, plants. You can almost make a completely natural habitat without spending any dollar on it.
And have you ever consider cultivating your own veggies? Maybe this is the time to start! Not only you can enjoy your own cultivated food, but also millipedes would like the eat from it.
Don’t want to buy a spray bottle (although they are quite cheap actually)? You can also use a plastic bottle and drill a lot of small holes in the cap. When you fill it with water and hold it upside down, you can make it rain in the enclosure moistening the substrate and increase the humidity.
Are millipedes cheap pets to own?
Can you consider a millipede as a cheap pet to own? Well, overall, I think you can. If you look at an initial expense starting of $210 and a yearly cost starting at $45 is not much money for a pet. Many common giant millipede species don’t have crazy high demands, and you can make them happy easily with a proper terrarium and a good substrate.
And if you compare the average expense with more regular pet species like dog and cats millipedes are absolutely cheap to keep. Cats yearly cost on average between $430 and $870 and dogs between $430 and $1170. In contrast to the yearly costs of $45 to $100 for millipedes, well, the numbers will tell enough I think.
Want to know more?
Interested in keeping millipedes as pets? We showed you already that you don’t have to leave them for the costs. But, it is also important to know how to care for them, so your millipede and you can enjoy each others company in the future. Therefore, I can recommend you to read the article about keeping and caring for millipedes.
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