Giant African Millipede Facts: The World’s Biggest Millipede

Picture a creature longer than your forearm, sporting hundreds of legs and a body as wide as a hot dog. It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it’s actually the Giant African Millipede, the biggest millipede on the planet.

Yet, its size isn’t the only remarkable thing about this gentle giant. It also harbors secrets about how evolution works, and how creatures poop to defend. Let’s delve into the captivating world of the Giant African Millipede and uncover some fascinating facts about it.

Giant African Millipede
Scientific name: Archispirostreptus gigas
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Diplopoda
Order: Spirostreptida
Family: Spirostreptidae
Genus: Archispirostreptus

They’re the largest species

In the millipede family, the Giant African millipede, or shongololo, is the biggest member, with a size of about 13.5 inches (34 cm) in length and 2.6 inches (67 mm) in width. Typically, they sport a dark brown or black color. Its rounded body has 40 or more segments, and each of them is equipped with 4 legs. However, the head and tail segments only have 2 legs.

As arthropods, giant African millipedes come with an exoskeleton and jointed legs, along with two antennae and simple eyes known as ocelli. They rely on tiny pores along their body, called spiracles, for breathing.

Giant African millipede Habitat

Giant African millipedes live in the rainforests of subtropical Africa. You can usually find them in warm and dark spots on the forest floor, where they like to dig into leaf piles and soft soil. They also enjoy staying in decaying wood and underground tunnels. These millipedes are social creatures, often living together in groups.


Giant African millipedes, like many other millipedes, primarily feed on decaying organic matter food. Sometimes, they also nibble on rocks rich in nutrients like calcium to help keep their tough outer shell strong.

giant african millipede food

They have quite a few predators, including frogs, birds, reptiles, and small mammals. To protect themselves, they won’t bite. These species have evolved some smart defense tactics:

  • Rolling into a tight ball, which makes them hard for predators to grab.
  • Releasing a smelly substance from their butt to discourage attackers.
  • Emitting toxic chemicals from pores on their body, which can make predators sick.

To know more about the millipede diet and defense mechanism, you can read the article about Milippede Facts.


African giant millipedes are mostly active at night, scavenging for food on the forest floor and hiding under logs during the day. Due to their poor eyesight, these millipedes rely on touch to communicate, using their antennae and legs to feel around. Interestingly, they can even smell and taste with most parts of their body.

giant African millipede face

These millipedes often have mites hitching a ride on them, forming a mutually beneficial relationship where the mites help clean up debris from the millipedes’ bodies.

Despite their size, African giant millipedes are quite gentle creatures. They don’t pose much of a threat to others and are usually seen peacefully going about their business without causing any trouble.


During mating season, giant African millipedes release special scents called pheromones to find a mate. Once a male and female pair up, they will start to coil around each other a few times to mate.

After mating, creates a hole to lay hundreds of eggs. It takes about three months for the eggs to hatch. In some cases, the mother will look after the eggs until they hatch. Once the eggs hatch, they begin their journey alone. The young are born white with only 6 legs and a few body segments. Within the first 12 hours, they shed their exoskeletons, gradually gaining more legs and body segments with each molt. These species have to molt 7 – 10 times before becoming adults. After several years, they become mature enough to reproduce.

The lifespan of giant African millipedes lasts for about 5 – 7 years. However, in captivity, they tend to have a longer lifespan, often reaching up to 10 years.

They can be pet

Giant African millipedes make great pets! They’re friendly critters that quickly get comfortable with handling if you’re gentle. Plus, they’re tough little guys, able to adapt to different levels of humidity and temperature. So, if you’re new to exotic pets, they’re an excellent choice to start with.



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We are passionate animal enthusiasts with over a decade of experience studying animals. With a degree in zoology and conservation biology, we've contributed to various research and conservation projects. We're excited to bring you engaging content that highlights the wonders of the animal kingdom. We aim to inspire others to appreciate and protect wildlife through informative content grounded in expertise and passion. Join us as we delve into the captivating world of animals and discover the incredible stories they have to tell.

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