When considering keeping millipedes as pets, you’ll want to know the following things: are millipedes poisonous to frogs? Are there other animals you can keep with millipedes? Do millipedes and frogs go together? And, of course, is it possible to keep millipedes and dart frogs together? The answer to these questions will vary between individual frogs and millipedes.
Size is everything
The good news is, Some millipedes can happily live with dart frogs. The bad news is, that some millipedes can happily EAT dart frogs (or be eaten by dart frogs!). It all comes down to size and species. Small millipedes will surely be eaten by the frog as millipedes of that size are a natural part of their diet in the wild.
Medium size millipedes will do much better in an enclosure with dart frogs. Too small though, and the frog may attempt to eat the millipede which could endanger the frog. The largest size millipede, such as the African giant millipede, is simply too large for most dart frogs to take on as a meal. So these would be safe to keep with your frogs.
On the other hand, The largest millipedes are quite aggressive and could potentially injure or even kill your frog. But don’t worry, there are steps to keep even the largest millipedes in with your dart frog which we will get into later.
Species are also important.
Not all millipedes are created equal. Some species of millipede produce a noxious fluid from their skin that can seriously harm your frog if they come into contact with it. Other millipede species secrete a different kind of substance that can actually be fatal if ingested by your frog.
Although most of the common millipedes you will find in most pet owners’ vivariums have lost their poisonous potency from a diet consisting of none poisonous leaves and fruits, woods, etc, and a lack of predators. It is still something to be aware of.
Millipedes are territorial
Millipedes are quite territorial. This means that if another millipede of the same or similar species is introduced to the terrarium, they will likely fight.
If two millipedes happen to meet while foraging for food, they may butt heads and start to damage each other’s exoskeletons. In some cases, this can even lead to death. And of course, the bigger the ‘pede is, the more aggressive it’s going to be. So it is best to keep only one millipede per vivarium.
But what about the frog? Will he become a target of this territorial aggression? Probably not!
Dart frogs are so small compared to say, the African giant millipede that they are generally ignored by millipedes. For the most part, the dart frog will remain higher than the millipede will in the vivarium, although it will occasionally have a run-in with the millipede on the vivarium floor.
The only time a millipede may become aggressive towards a frog is if the frog attempts to eat the millipede or really makes him angry. The larger the millipede the less likely this is to happen.
Millipedes produce hydrogen cyanide
Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is a colorless, poisonous gas with a bitter almond odor. It is produced when certain foods, such as grains and nuts, are processed.
HCN interferes with the body’s ability to use oxygen and is lethal in high doses. It’s also considered a minor acid.
Millipedes produce a small amount of hydrogen cyanide, which can hurt animals such as frogs and irritate larger animals’ mucous membranes.
The good news is, that the amount of HCN produced by millipedes is generally not enough to seriously harm your frog unless he ingests a large amount of it.
So as long as your frog isn’t eating the millipede, he should be fine.
In fact, some frogs actually use the millipede’s HCN as a defense mechanism. When threatened, the frog will excrete HCN from his skin which will send the predator running!
With that said, unless the millipede is producing large amounts of hydrogen cyanide, it is not going to be a problem for your dart frog.
Keeping the vivarium darker than usual
Millipedes are very sensitive to light and will avoid it if they can. In fact, they are so sensitive to light that they can actually be harmed by it.
This is why it is a good idea to keep the vivarium darker than usual if you are going to keep millipedes with your frogs.
To make your vivarium more millipede-friendly, you may find yourself dimming the light. This is fine for the frog, But the vegetation in the vivarium may suffer.
If this is the case, you may find yourself needing to replace moss, wood hardscape, and plants fairly often.
Speaking of damaging plants, Millipedes are ferocious eaters and will munch on just about any plant they come across. They will even attempt to eat the wood in the vivarium if given the chance.
They are heavy but will still attempt to climb everything in the vivarium. This means plants that aren’t secure may become damaged or uprooted.
Uprooting in the substrate is also possible as the millipedes will dig and burrow their way around the vivarium. Deep substrates are a must for these ‘pedes! So, there are a few downsides to the pair, including higher maintenance costs and plan replacements.
You will need to make changes to your vivarium
If you decide you wish to attempt this (we honestly don’t recommend the pairing, however), you will need to make some changes to your vivarium.
First, you will need to make sure the vivarium is escape-proof. Millipedes are good climbers and will find their way out if given the chance.
You will also need to make sure the vivarium has a deep substrate for the millipede to burrow in. At least 6 inches (15 cm) is needed but more is always better.
A hiding spot for the millipede is also a good idea, as they like to have a place to hide during the day.
Something deep and dark away from any light that could potentially harm them will work perfectly. A piece of driftwood or a cave would work well for this. And finally, you will need to make sure the vivarium has plenty of plants for the millipede to munch on.
Bottom line, Can you keep millipedes with dart frogs?
You could keep dart frogs with millipedes. They have similar needs. The only issue is making sure your vivarium is large enough for the millipede’s territorial aggression and that your plants can withstand their eating habits, light requirements, and weight. This pairing should only be done by experienced hobbyists.
Would we recommend this pairing? No. Unless you have an extremely well-behaved millipede, this pairing isn’t recommended and if you do attempt it, you will need to take extra care to keep an eye on them.
If there are any signs of fighting or stress from either the frog or the millipede, remove them immediately to their own separate enclosures.