On May 28, several outlets, including Reuters, published a story about the discovery of a fossilized millipede that walked its many last steps 425 million years ago.  Discovered on Keerera, an island in the Scottish Inner Herbides, this millipede is now the oldest known land animal.

Being that I am not an expert on millipede fossils, I do not have anything of substance to add to this interesting story that is not discussed in the numerous articles on the matter.  However, the subject of this millipede fossil did remind me of something I once read about caring for pet millipedes. 

The definition of millipede in The Century Dictionary above an illustration of a millipede.
Definition of millipede, clipped from The Century Dictionary. You may note that Century spells it “milleped.” It also has a definition for “millipede,” but that definition refers back to milleped. This is just one of our many Century Dictionary excerpts on site.

For Some Reason, We Move On To Discuss Caring For Pet Millipedes

To start, I must note that I have never had a pet millipede.  I never thought about acquiring a pet millipede. I do not anticipate bringing a millipede home in the future.  Notwithstanding this, however, I once found myself reading Petco’s online guide for millipede maintenance.

Petco’s guide for caring for your pet millipede is neatly organized into sections, each with a number of bullet-points.  Since I have no original insights to offer on the subject of pet millipede welfare, I will assume that Petco’s advice is entirely in accord with keeping a happy and healthy millipede.

One of the bullet-points on the millipede care list caught my attention.  Petco lists several “[t]hings to remember when feeding your millipede.”  The last of the things to remember reads as follows:

Water – Always have a shallow dish of chlorine free water available; place a sponge or stones in the dish to keep the millipede from drowning.
(Emphasis added.)

Petco’s online millipede care guide.

The italicized portion of that advice almost makes a pet millipede sound endearing in its helplessness.  To me, a pet bug sounds like something that should be low maintenance.  A bug obviously needs a clean container, food, and water.  Never would I have thought that one would need to take so many precautions to ensure that a pet millipede does not drown itself on a trip to the watering hole.  The scales fell from my eyes.  I was disabused from the notion I had, but never thought about, that a pet millipede could be trusted to drink from a shallow dish of water without special precautions to keep it from drowning itself.

(I must submit for the record that if your pet is at a higher risk of drowning while drinking water in captivity than in nature, its status as a pet may be questionable.)

Returning to Pre-History

What are the chances that the 450-year old millipede from Kerrera perished in a tragic hydrating accident?