|Giant African millipede|
Archispirostreptus gigas, the giant African millipede, is one of the largest millipedes, growing up to 38.5 centimetres (15.2 in) in length, 67 millimetres (2.6 in) in circumference. It has approximately 256 legs, although the number of legs changes with each molting so it can vary according to each individual.
It is a widespread species in lowland parts of East Africa, from Mozambique to Kenya, but rarely reaches altitudes above 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). It lives mostly in forests, but can also be found in areas of coastal habitat that contain at least a few trees. It is known in Zulu as amashongololo. It is also native to Southern Arabia, especially in Dhofar.
A. gigas is black in colour, and is often kept as a pet. In general, giant millipedes have a life expectancy of about 5–7 years. Giant millipedes have two main modes of defence if they feel threatened: curling into a tight spiral exposing only the hard exoskeleton, and secretion of an irritating liquid from pores on their body. This liquid can be harmful if introduced into the eyes or mouth.
Small mites are often observed crawling on their exoskeleton and among their legs. The millipedes have a symbiotic relationship with these mites, in which the mites help clean the millipedes exoskeleton in exchange for food and the protection of their host.
- Spelda J. (2016). SysMyr: Systematic Myriapod Database (version Apr 2013). In: Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life, 29th January 2016 (Roskov Y., Abucay L., Orrell T., Nicolson D., Kunze T., Flann C., Bailly N., Kirk P., Bourgoin T., DeWalt R.E., Decock W., De Wever A., eds). Digital resource at http://www.catalogueoflife.org/col/details/species/id/b67b4036768e01b126a3097ef8174d9d. Species 2000: Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands. ISSN 2405-8858
- Mark Carwardine (2008). "Centipedes and millipedes". Animal Records. Sterling Publishing Company. pp. 216–217. ISBN 978-1-4027-5623-8.
- R. L. Hoffman (2000). "Millipedes". In Neil D. Burgess; G. Philip Clarke. Coastal forests of Eastern Africa. IUCN. ISBN 978-2-8317-0436-4.
- Shelley Wood Gauld (2006). "Glossary". Much Bigger Than Grownups: Chronicles of a Native South African. Lulu Enterprises. pp. 223–236. ISBN 978-1-4116-8217-7.
- "Giant African millipede". Oakland Zoo. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- "Giant African Millipede" (PDF). rosamondgiffordzoo.org. Rosamond Gifford Zoo. 3 January 2006. Retrieved 13 April 2015.