Animal Species:Pill millipedes

Pill millipedes are capable of rolling into perfect balls when disturbed. They may sometimes be confused with garden slaters but pill millipedes can tuck their head and legs in so they are entirely concealed, while slaters cannot.

Pill millipede specimen

Andrew Donnelly © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Pill millipedes

Identification

Most millipedes are long and slender, but pill millipedes are short and stout with a covering of hard, shiny segments called tergites.

Size range

4 cm

Similar Species

slaters

Distribution

Pill millipedes are found throughout the Southern Hemisphere (Northern Hemisphere pill millipedes belong to a different but related order, Glomerida).

Habitat

Pill millipedes live in moist urban areas, forests and woodlands.

Feeding and Diet

Like most millipedes, pill millipedes are herbivorous, feeding on decomposing organic matter on the forest floor or among leaf litter.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Besides rolling into a ball, pill millipedes found in the northern hemisphere can also defend themselves with a chemical defence. Along their body are pores that release a smell that can kill or scare off other small creatures. To humans, the smell is similar to almonds, but to small creatures it is extremely toxic as it contains the chemical cyanide.

Classification

Order:
Sphaerotheriida
Class:
Diplopoda
Subphylum:
Uniramia
Phylum:
Arthopoda
Kingdom:
Animalia

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Tags millipedes, myriapods, invertebrates, arthropods, identification, wildlife of sydney,