What Critter Has Hundreds of Legs But Can't Run?
What’s black, can have up to 400 legs but couldn’t run if he had too? Yep...it’s the Giant African Millipede. This critter eats dead and decaying plant matter. Sounds kind of nasty? Ah...but he serves an amazing purpose. His main function is to hurry along the breakdown of leaf matter, producing smaller pieces that aid in the recycling of all those bacteria and fungi. While he’s busy eating his way through what most animals walk on and ignore, he is being watched by many other critters that consider him to be dinner...in South Africa there are many birds that snatch him up, along with some frogs, lizards and turtles to mention a few.
On occasion these critters get confused by folks as being centipedes. Lucky for us, the millipede is the more docile of the two and non venomous. They have two pairs of legs compared to the one of the centipede on each segment, except for the front and back segments. Their legs are fairly short, but they are good at digging and seem to have some sort of engineering instinct, as they move dirt around to make their tunnel walls stronger. They are safer in the ground, but when they come up for food, in spite of those hundreds of legs, they move quite slow making them easy bait for predators.
A tidbit of trivia...if you should ever want to keep a millipede for a pet, they can live up to 7 years and about 15 inches...why you might want him as a pet is not listed in my trivia book.