What Do Millipedes Eat? 9 Surprising Meals

Written by August Buck
Published: December 10, 2021
Image Credit Piyapong pc/Shutterstock.com
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Don’t confuse millipedes with their wriggling cousin the centipede. Millipedes are a surprisingly gentle invertebrate, which makes them popular pets. These bugs may not be everyone’s favorite. However, they do eat a variety of things.

So, what do millipedes eat? Millipedes eat decaying plant material, leaves or flower buds, other bugs, and fungi.  

Given that these invertebrates are often considered a pest, let’s take a look in depth at what millipedes eat. The answer may surprise you. Perhaps shining a light on these misunderstood guys will help with our perception of them!

What Do Millipedes Eat
Millipedes eat decaying plant material, leaves or flower buds, other bugs, and fungi.

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What Does a Millipede Eat?

Millipedes eat anything decaying, including plant material, other bugs, and even animals. They are omnivores and are also considered detritivores, which means they only eat things that have died and are in the process of decaying.

However, given that a millipede is a somewhat opportunistic eater, little is known about the extent of their diet. They seem to be capable of eating anything that is in decay, though- they prefer decay to anything living. This is a great contrast compared to what centipedes like to eat!

Likewise, millipedes are necessary components of any forest ecosystem, according to Functional Ecology. They, along with snails, are two key creatures capable of consuming decaying plant matter. These animals ultimately assist with a forest’s health and wellness, which means more beautiful forests for us to enjoy.

A Complete List of 9 Foods Millipedes Eat

What Does a Millipede Eat?
Millipedes eat anything decaying, including plant material, other bugs, and even animals.

Wandel Guides/Shutterstock.com

Depending on the specific species of millipede, they can eat the following things:

  • Tree bark
  • Plant materials, such as leaves or buds
  • Decaying plant fescue
  • Decaying carcasses
  • Other bugs
  • Fungi or mushrooms
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Moss

If you happen upon a millipede in the wild, you are no doubt in a damp and moist environment. Likewise, millipedes love decaying soil and rich wet earth, which means they are often found hiding under rocks or fallen branches.

These moist environments also help things decompose, making them ideal locations for millipedes. According to a study performed by The Florida Entomologist, millipedes are often nuisances in Florida given the humid environs.

You are likely to stumble upon a wild millipede if you are traversing an area with a lot of rotten leaves or plant matter. This is their preference, and millipedes often turn their noses up at anything fresh- even the greenest grass!

What to Feed Millipedes as a Pet

Did you know that you can keep giant millipedes as pets with little trouble? While they can be a bit sneaky and are considered escape artists, multiple millipedes can be kept in an enclosed tank in your home. If this is something you’re interested in, great!

Here is a list of what to feed your pet millipedes:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Wet cat or dog food
  • Wet fish flakes
  • Decaying plant material
  • Living moss
  • Decaying bark or twigs
What to Feed Millipedes as a Pet
Every millipede is different and may enjoy eating something you never expected!

Alex Stemmers/Shutterstock.com

The moisture level of your millipede’s home is key to keeping this invertebrate happy. They love a warm environment with plenty of moisture, and prefer hiding places such as underneath soil or decorative rocks.

Millipedes are very adventurous and curious eaters as well. If you are keeping one as a pet, many millipede experts encourage you to give your millipedes a variety of foods. Vegetable scraps or rotten fruit are good choices. Every millipede is different and may enjoy eating something you never expected!

You also don’t need to worry about keeping a water dish out for your pet millipede. So long as their enclosure is damp and moist, you can rest easy knowing your new invertebrate will hydrate itself.

How Does a Millipede Eat?

Millipedes eat with their mandibles, a lower jaw, and a few tiny teeth. They are also known as being from the Diplopoda class of animal species. This class includes nearly 10,000 different types of millipedes.

It may sound surprising that this creature has a mouth, given its diminutive size and many many legs. Millipede literally translates to “one thousand feet” after all. But they do indeed have a mouth and teeth to eat with.

After a millipede hatches, it takes at least a year before it reaches maturity. Some different species take much longer to become fully grown. Likewise, some millipedes need a full decade to reach adulthood!

Given that these creatures can indeed live so long, a reliable mandible and set of teeth is very important to the average millipede.

How Does a Millipede Eat
Millipedes eat with their mandibles, a lower jaw, and a few tiny teeth.

iztverichka/Shutterstock.com

How Much Does a Millipede Eat?

A millipede can eat nearly 5 times its body weight between the time it hatches and once it reaches adulthood. This is usually accomplished by consuming decaying leaves and other plant matter found on moist forest floors.

Millipedes are not very selective eaters. However, they do have preferences that often vary from one creature to the next. Many millipede pet owners will confirm this, as they experiment in feeding their millipedes.

It is recommended that you begin with a cup of food per day for your millipede. Discard it the following morning in favor of something different, especially if it appears as though they haven’t eaten much. Overeating is not a millipede’s primary concern! 

Given that a millipede has a few small teeth and mandibles capable of pulling in their food, it’s no wonder that this animal can eat a great deal of decaying plant matter. No matter how tiny they are, a millipede is capable of enjoying a nice meal! With some large millipedes often kept as pets reaching up to a foot in length, they can be voracious eaters.

Do Millipedes Have Any Predators?

How Much Does a Millipede Eat
A millipede can eat nearly 5 times its body weight between the time it hatches and once it reaches adulthood.

Gerry Bishop/Shutterstock.com

Millipedes have a great deal of predators, including rodents, birds, other bugs, and reptiles. Given that millipedes are much slower and more docile than their centipede cousins, they are often prey to many different species.

Common millipede predators include:

This could be another reason that millipedes are often found beneath the surface of leaves, dirt, and rocks. Hiding is no doubt a primary defense mechanism of these creatures. However, they are no match for a hungry bird or mammal.

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